On the day the prosecution rested its case in the federal corruption trial of two San Francisco police officers, one of the defendants announced he plans to testify.
Officer Edmond Robles, who, along with Sgt. Ian Furminger, is standing trial in Judge Charles Breyer's federal courtroom for alleged corruption starting in 2009, was not set to testify in the case.
But in a decision that took the U.S. Attorney's Office off guard Monday, Robles' attorney Teresa Caffese said her client did indeed plan to testify in the case today.
Furminger was asked if he, too, wanted to testify but he asked to reserve that decision until he'd heard Robles' testimony.
The case against both men alleges that they, and former Officer Reynaldo Vargas — who has pleaded guilty to all but one charge that was dropped as part of a deal — plotted with informants and drug dealers to rob other drug dealers of money and drugs. In one alleged incident, the three officers, who were part of a plainclothes team at the Mission Police Station, dug up $30,000 in a 2009 search of a Newark heroin dealer's house. They then allegedly split the cash, allowing Robles to pay for an expensive Belgian road bike, and Furminger to buy new skylights, according to testimony.
Lawyers for Robles and Furminger have argued that Vargas, who testified against the men for the prosecution, was the mastermind of the wrongdoing. Their clients, they have argued, just happened to be assigned to the same plainclothes investigation team as Vargas.
Aside from brief testimony from Furminger's wife Monday, the two defense teams have called no other witnesses. Robles may be the only substantial witness called in the case for the defense teams.
What he might reveal about the plainclothes unit he worked in or himself remains to be seen.
Specifically, the trio allegedly stole a $500 and a $53 Apple gift card, during an apartment search in March 2009. The cards were used by a heroin addict to pay his drug dealer, and were then stolen by the three undercover officers to use for themselves, prosecutors said.
The three are also alleged to have stolen money during four other searches in Newark and San Francisco between May and November 2009. Prosecutors said their largest haul was the $30,000 taken from a Newark residence that year.
Robles, Furminger, Vargas and three other officers were part of plainclothes investigation teams whose alleged misdeeds were captured on video discovered by the Public Defender's Office and released to the media in 2011.
That video footage eventually led to an FBI investigation that resulted in a variety of charges and two separate federal cases.
All six men were indicted in February and suspended without pay. Other officers involved in the incidents, whose alleged misconduct did not pass the federal criminal threshold, may face administrative penalties.