Yvonne Robinson. Courtesy photo

A state appeals court panel today upheld a former Long Beach police detective’s conviction for conspiring to obstruct justice for leaking details of two investigations, including a murder probe, to a reputed gang member.

The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Yvonne Dionne Robinson’s claim that there were errors in her trial in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

Robinson was sentenced in August 2021 to 80 hours of community service and two years probation.

At Robinson’s sentencing, Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench said, “This case just saddens me.”

The judge noted that a “career that was sought-after has been destroyed by Ms. Robinson’s own conduct.”

Robinson’s attorney, Case Barnett, told the judge then that his client “understands the gravity of the situation,” but said he didn’t believe there was any “malicious intent” to aid a gang.

Deputy District Attorney Arisa Mattson countered that Robinson “did lie on the stand” and urged the judge to “hold her accountable for her conduct in this case.”

Robinson—whose employment police say was terminated in March 2013—was charged in December 2013 along with the alleged gang member, Prentice Jones, who police said was her brother-in-law’s brother.

Jones pleaded no contest in December 2017 to conspiring to obstruct justice and was sentenced to three years probation, 15 days of community service and two days in jail, according to court records.

”She agreed to give confidential information to a gang member,” the prosecutor told jurors in her closing argument.

The deputy district attorney told the jury that Robinson “betrayed” not only the Long Beach Police Department but the community, and allowed a local gang to “stay one step ahead of the Long Beach Police Department’s investigation.”

Robinson’s attorney had urged the jury to acquit his client, who testified in her own defense. Barnett noted that Robinson was making $100,000 a year along with benefits and retirement and questioned what motive she would have to provide information to gang members.

Of a former colleague’s testimony that he figured out years later that Jones was the young man Robinson had showed him a photo of and said she was “messing around with” in an apparent reference to a sexual relationship, Barnett called it “desperate because the prosecution can’t prove their case.”

”It doesn’t hold water. It doesn’t make sense,” Robinson’s attorney told jurors.

After Robinson and Jones were arrested in December 2013, Long Beach police said in a statement that a “full-scale criminal investigation” was started when detectives learned that details of a murder investigation were being leaked–apparently from someone within the police department.

The prosecution also alleged that Robinson gave Jones information from a report about an assault, and that the former detective went to bat in an effort to have him removed from a gang injunction.

In May 2012, police identified Robinson, a detective in the Youth Services Section of the department’s Investigations Bureau, as the alleged mole and placed her under surveillance, according to the police department.

After several months, investigators determined that Robinson was leaking case information to Jones, who passed it on to leaders of the gang, police said.

Robinson was placed on administrative leave in July 2012 and stripped of her police powers, according to Long Beach police. Her employment was terminated upon the conclusion of the department’s administrative investigation.

”Police department employees are held accountable to the highest standards, and the department takes immediate action to address employee misconduct,” then-LBPD Chief Jim McDonnell said after Robinson’s arrest.

”It is extremely disappointing when the behavior of one individual undermines the public trust that this department works so hard to uphold. We will not tolerate actions that dishonor the badge that we wear so proudly. The men and women of our department work diligently every day to do the right thing and to provide excellent service to our community. The acts of the one shouldn’t outweigh the acts of the many,” he continued.

Jury finds ex-detective guilty of leaking police secrets to Long Beach street gang