Man accused of setting up fake donation site for slain Escondido officer's family pleads guilty

VISTA, Calif. - A man who created a bogus website and tricked people into believing they were giving monetary contributions to the 4-year-old daughter of a slain Escondido police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony charges, including identity theft and receiving stolen property.

Sami Ahmed Saeed, 25, faces up to a year in jail when he is sentenced Sept. 10 at the Vista Courthouse.

Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn said that Saeed, who was arrested July 30 during a search of his Escondido home, was recently fired from his job as a security guard at the North County Fair Mall.

Shortly after Officer Laura Perez died in her Murrieta home July 23 -- allegedly at the hands of her husband, 27-year-old Freddy Perez Rodas – the Escondido Police Department began receiving reports of a phony online site soliciting donations that supposedly would benefit the victim's young daughter.

The website stated in part: "The men and women of the Escondido police family and all city of Escondido employees are shocked by the tragic loss of one of our own. We ask for time to grieve and take care of Laura's family ... We are humbly asking if you even have a few dollars to help, to please donate," according to a court document filed by the prosecution.

A police investigator learned of Saeed's involvement in creating the website and contacted Laura Perez's family, who said they didn't know the defendant, according to the court document.

"Fortunately, the scam was discovered before any contributions were made," EPD Lt. Eric Skaja said.

Saeed was in possession of stolen credit cards and items used to manufacture credit and identification cards when he was arrested, authorities said.

At the time of his arrest, Saeed was out on bail after been jailed on suspicion of stealing cellphones from shoppers at a local mall.

Rodas allegedly confessed to shooting Perez in the chest during an argument and then setting their house on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime.

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