SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A former San Diego Sheriff’s sergeant has pleaded guilty to trying to meet a minor for sex.
The surprise guilty plea from Luis Rios came at the start of a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
In June, Rios pleaded not guilty to three charges stemming from an undercover sting operation last year by a vigilante group.
People v. Preds pretended to be 15-year-old boys while talking with Rios on the gay dating app Grindr. The group arranged a meeting in a McDonald’s parking lot in Mission Valley with him last March.
The veteran of law enforcement, who had worked for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for 25 years, denied any wrongdoing at the time and said he was there to get a McDonald’s order.
But the vigilante group uploaded screenshots of explicit sexual conversations it had with Rios.
The conversations were later corroborated by a police officer with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, who found Rios knowingly chatted with minors despite learning their age.
The officer found Rios initiated different meet-ups even after making statements that he didn’t want to go to jail.
The man behind People V. Preds told ABC 10News this is the 15th conviction that’s come because of one of its sting operations.
The San Diego County District Attorney said the plea agreement it made with Rios will see him serve one year behind bars but the court may consider alternatives to custody. The agreement also requires him to register as a sex offender.
Lt. David LaDieu said the sheriff’s department took immediate action after learning about the allegations against Rios.
The spokesman said three days after the incident in 2022, Rios was no longer employed by the department.
“We are grateful for the work of the investigators and the district attorney’s Office in this case. Criminal conduct is not tolerated in the sheriff’s Department and any allegations will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly,” LaDieu said Wednesday.
Rios will be sentenced on December 5th at 1:30 p.m.