A high-ranking director of the Las Vegas police union and a veteran detective pleaded not guilty on Monday to felony charges that stem from the detective’s relationship with a drug-addicted stripper.
Prosecutors said 45-year-old Michael Ramirez, a legislative lobbyist with the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, and 46-year-old police Detective Lawrence Rinetti Jr. provided urine samples to help the woman pass court-ordered drug tests while Rinetti carried on a romantic relationship with her.
One by one, District Judge Tierra Jones called Ramirez and Rinetti, both men dressed in dark suits, into her courtroom to enter their pleas.
The testimony of stripper Gabriella DiLorenzo and 24 others led to indictments against Rinetti and Ramirez earlier this month.
Rinetti faces 40 counts of felonies and gross misdemeanors, including trafficking in a controlled substance, misconduct of a public officer, conspiracy, offering a false instrument for filing or record, and fraudulent use of a credit card. Ramirez faces one count each of conspiracy to commit a crime and offering a false instrument for filing or record.
Because of a scaled-back court system that includes a temporarily closed clerk’s office, their attorney, Colleen Savage, told the judge that she had difficulty obtaining any of the hundreds of exhibits presented to a grand jury through weeks of testimony.
The judge said she would facilitate the defense attorney’s access in any way she could, adding, “We’re in a difficult situation right now because of the coronavirus.”
The hearings for Rinetti and Ramirez, who remain free on bail, took a total of about six minutes.
DiLorenzo told the grand jury that she met Rinetti while she was in custody at the Clark County Detention Center in June 2018 and that the two began having sex shortly after her release a month later. She said he stole methamphetamine and heroin from drug busts in order to help her pay rent.
Rinetti and Ramirez also provided DiLorenzo, who has a lengthy criminal history, urine samples in order to keep her out of jail, according to testimony.
Rinetti, who has since been relieved of duty without pay, joined the Metropolitan Police Department in January 2006. At the time of his arrest, he was assigned to the department’s Major Violators and Narcotics Crimes Bureau. He also had worked with the U.S. Marshals Service tracking down fugitives.
After the indictment was announced, the police union’s president, Steve Grammas, delivered a letter to its members, stating that Ramirez would not work for the union.
“Mike vehemently denies the charges,” the letter stated. “While the evidence appears slim, LVMPD will still place Mike on unpaid leave until the criminal case is resolved.”