Defense rests in SF police corruption trial

The high-profile federal corruption case against two San Francisco police officers came one step closer to its finale Tuesday after both defense teams rested their cases without either defendant testifying.

Sgt. Ian Furminger and Officer Edmond Robles are standing trial on federal charges stemming from allegations that include working with informants to rob drug dealers of drugs and money. Their former Mission Police Station plainclothes partner Officer Reynaldo Vargas also allegedly was involved.

Robles, who was scheduled to take the stand Tuesday, decided not to testify because the prosecution's unfounded accusations did not deserve a response, said his lawyer Teresa Caffese following Tuesday's hearing in Judge Charles Breyer's federal courtroom.

The prosecution, she continued, also failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The case rests on two individuals who perjured themselves,” she said of testimony from Vargas and former drug dealer and informant Cesar Hernandez.

Both men's testimony implicated Robles and Furminger, as well as themselves, in a series of crimes in 2009 that included extortion, theft and drug dealing.

But their testimony should not have even been allowed, Caffese said, since both men stood to gain from cooperating with the government and have shown themselves to be liars in the past.

Vargas and Hernandez had motivations beyond the truth to testify for the prosecution, Caffese said. Vargas received a plea deal in which the U.S. Attorney's Office dropped a civil-rights violation charge, and he has said in court he hopes the cooperation will mean a lesser sentence. Hernandez was provided money by the federal government during the investigation and received papers that allow him to work in the U.S. in exchange for his cooperation for the prosecution.

“That type of testimony shouldn't be sanctioned,” Caffese said. “They lied and [their] testimony was based on lies.”

Furminger's lawyer Brian Getz has made similar arguments in court as well.

Furminger's defense, which also didn't include his testimony, had only one witness: his soon-to-be former wife. Her short testimony Monday only touched upon one subject: money. She said during the time of the alleged crimes that Furminger and her did not have any money problems, which the defense seemed to be using as a way to show that Furminger had no reason to participate in the alleged crimes.

The disparate facts in the case will be tied together or conversely torn apart Monday when jurors are set to hear closing arguments.

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