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Los Angeles Times ordered to change article about police officer linked to Mexican Mafia

A federal judge ordered the Los Angeles Times to change an article about a Southern California police officer over the weekend. The article included information about a plea agreement between prosecutors and Glendale police Detective John Saro Balian.

As part of the plea agreement, Balian pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying to investigators looking into whether he has connections to the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized crime. Balian was arrested in May at his home in Seal Beach.

On Saturday morning, the Times posted an article that used information from Balian's plea agreement, which was mistakenly posted to a public online service for court documents, according to the newspaper. The agreement was supposed to have been sealed.

Balian's attorney, Craig Missakian, was granted an order from U.S. District Judge John Walter to take down the article, according to the Times. The paper then removed information from the article that came from the plea agreement. Missakian wouldn't comment to the paper about the order.

The Times said it wants to challenge Walter's order.

"We believe that once material is in the public record, it is proper and appropriate to publish it if it is newsworthy," Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine told the paper.

Court records say Balian pleaded guilty to all three charges he was facing - bribery, obstruction of justice and lying. His sentencing is set for Sept. 24.

Prosecutors say a Mexican Mafia associate told investigators that Balian relayed key law enforcement information to criminals about investigations and was involved in extortion plots.

When investigators interviewed Balian, prosecutors say he lied to hide associations with gang members, the Mexican Mafia and Armenian organized crime.

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