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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A former top IMPD command officer has been demoted after writing a letter to a judge in support of a lenient sentence for a friend who was convicted of rape.

Michael Jefferson has been stripped of his rank of major and is now a lieutenant, officials indicated. He has also been reassigned and is no longer overseeing IMPD’s Community Engagement Office.

“I know him to be honest, hardworking, dependable and a great father,” Jefferson wrote in a one-page letter submitted at a Dec. 6 court sentencing hearing on behalf of 58-year-old Lance Fleming. “As I understand it this is a questionable case.”

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Fleming, who has maintained his innocence, was convicted at an October trial of raping a female friend in 2015.

Despite Jefferson’s letter asking that Fleming be placed on probation or house arrest, a judge sentenced Fleming to 5 years in state prison.

Jefferson could not immediately be reached for comment. IMPD released this statement:

Michael Jefferson’s letter to the court was outside of the scope of his official duties and in violation of IMPD’s General Orders. His actions were not reflective of the values that guide IMPD officers in their work to improve the safety of Indianapolis neighborhoods. Jefferson was notified on Wednesday that he will be removed from his appointed rank as Major of the Community Engagement Office, effective tomorrow.