Nearly 70 cases dropped by San Francisco DA’s office in police misconduct investigation 

Prosecutors have dismissed 68 criminal cases in connection with the ongoing investigation into a plainclothes unit accused of illegal searches during drug raids and falsifying police reports, a spokesman said Monday.

District Attorney’s Office spokesman Seth Steward said the 68 cases dismissed as of Friday constituted the majority of the open cases involving the unit that his office would dismiss.

“If there’s a case that we know we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt, we want to bring that to the court’s attention as soon as possible,” Steward said.

The majority of the dismissed cases involve drug-related arrests, though some others were arrests during undercover robbery decoy operations.

Steward said there could be a few more open cases to dismiss in the future. He did not immediately have information on the total number of pending cases involving arrests by the unit.

By contrast, some 700 cases were dismissed last year following allegations a San Francisco Police Department drug lab criminalist had taken small amounts of cocaine from evidence.

Also on Friday, District Attorney George Gascón — who was chief of police when the alleged violations occurred — said he had decided to turn over the investigation into the possible misconduct to the FBI. He cited a lack of resources in his office, but denied there was any conflict of interest.

The allegations, brought to the public’s attention by Public Defender Jeff Adachi earlier this month, involve video surveillance footage showing a handful of arrests at residential hotels in recent months in which officers appeared to enter residences without warrants or consent, contradicting their arrest reports filed afterward.

The eight members of the Southern Station unit — Raymond Kane, Raul Elias, Richard Yick, Arshad Razzak, Arthur Madrid, Robert Forneris, Gregory Buhagiar and supervising Sgt. Samuel Christ — have been placed on desk duty during a Police Department internal affairs investigation.

The officers have not as yet been charged in connection with the allegations.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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