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By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Leroy Martin Romero was regarded by some inmates in Lerdo Jail as a "gangster with a badge," according to redacted reports filed in court.
The reports say the Kern County sheriff's detentions deputy would flash gang signs and tell others he was "down with Loma," a reference to the Loma Bakers criminal street gang. One inmate referred to him as his "tio," or uncle.
He became so close to some of inmates he agreed to conduct business with them by smuggling contraband inside the jail, according to the reports.
Romero was arrested Nov. 21 after investigators found contraband on him when he showed up for work. Specifically, they found latex fingers that had been cut off a glove, filled with tobacco and tied off at the end, the reports say.
A search warrant served at Romero's northeast Bakersfield home turned up two packages of suspected methamphetamine, deputies said.
Romero, 50, has pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy and transporting a controlled substance. His next court date is April 22.
Investigators say in the reports they'd been monitoring calls placed by two inmates who would tell associates to make deliveries of tobacco or drugs at Romero's residence. They gave his exact address in the 2900 block of Dartmouth Street, telling whomever made the delivery to dump the items in the back of Romero's pickup.
Romero's home was placed under surveillance and investigators witnessed a dropoff in September, according to the reports. Romero then walked outside the house, checked the back of his pickup and went back inside with the package.
The reports say one of the inmates who made the calls cooperated with investigators after Romero's arrest and told them his associates brought deliveries that could include tobacco, marijuana or methamphetamine to Romero's house. Romero would smuggle the contraband inside Lerdo in return for beer and sexual favors from women.
The inmate told investigators Romero especially liked receiving "hickeys," the reports say.
Another perk was that Loma members allowed Romero to act like a member or associate of the gang, according to the reports. But despite what he thought, the inmate said, Romero wasn't really one of them.
The inmate said he'd testify against him.