Indicted San Francisco cops plead not guilty
By PAUL ELIAS
the associated press | March 01,2014
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr speaks during a news conference at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco on Thursday.
SAN FRANCISCO — Stripped of their guns and pay, four San Francisco police officers pleaded innocent Friday to charges contained in federal corruption indictments that could send each to prison for a decade or more.
The four men were among five current officers and one former officer charged Thursday in the two separate indictments.
Three defendants are accused of taking money, drugs, electronics and gift cards seized during investigations. The others are accused of violating the civil rights of suspects through warrantless searches of residences.
All but one of the defendants have entered not guilty pleas and were freed on $50,000 bond pending trial. Officer Edmond Robles appeared in court but needed a lawyer and didn’t enter a plea. He is due back in court Tuesday.
Outside court, Mike Rains, an attorney for Officer Arshad Razzak, said he expected all the defendants to take their cases to trial rather than accept plea bargains.
“These are very serious accusations,” Rains said.
Razzak, 41, and Officer Richard Yick, 37, both of San Francisco; and Officer Raul Eric Elias, 44, of San Mateo each face three civil rights charges that carry possible penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The other defendants are accused of taking a $500 Apple gift card and other valuables during a 2009 arrest, an indictment states. Two days later, former officer Reynaldo Vargas, 45, of Palm Desert used the card to buy an iPhone and iPod Nano, prosecutors said.
Sgt. Ian Furminger, 47, of Pleasant Hill and Robles, 46, of Danville also are charged in that case.
Marijuana was taken in another incident, according to the indictment that accuses Vargas of delivering the pot to two informants and asking them to sell it and split the proceeds with him, Furminger and Robles.
“Our department is shaken. This is as serious as an issue as I can recall in my time in the department,” said an emotional Police Chief Greg Suhr, who has been with the department since 1981.
Suhr said federal authorities assured him the arrests did not reflect a systemic problem in the department.
Furminger, Robles and Vargas each face counts of drug conspiracy and drug distribution that each carry a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. They also face a charge of civil rights conspiracy that carries a sentence of up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine, and a federal program theft charge.
In the other indictment, three defendants were charged with civil rights violations that prosecutors said involve illegally entering hotel rooms and intimidating occupants.
The charges were based on surveillance footage from a hotel in the Tenderloin neighborhood that was released by the city’s public defender, Jeff Adachi, in 2011. Adachi claimed the videos of plainclothes officers contradicted police reports and sworn police testimony.
The indictment did not provide additional details about the searches.