The Los Angeles Times tells the crazy-but-true story of Ronald L. Mortensen, a former Las Vegas police officer who went on a drunken, off-duty birthday spree with his partner, Chris Brady, in 1996 that ended with a fatal shooting of an unarmed man who they believed was a gang member. Brady said Mortensen did it. Mortensen said Brady did it. The jury blamed Mortensen and convicted him of murder. He was sentenced to 99 years without possibility of parole and sent to a prison in Ohio.
Following years of appeal attempts, in 2006 Mortensen was preparing what might be his final bid for a new trial. Anxious to improve his odds, he orchestrated a scheme from behind bars to acquire California beachfront property from his ailing grandmother and tap loose credit markets for funds for his defense. His ultimate plan, as revealed in secretly recorded jailhouse conversations, was to influence the court with something more than legal argument — something like $100,000 in cash. Details of the plot are emerging from more than 100 hours of jailhouse phone and surveillance recordings and thousands of pages of internal police and FBI files, the basis of the Times story.