SF police corruption trial expected to start next week

Courtesy video imageSeveral former San Francisco police officers are facing federal charges stemming from allegedly illegal searches and seizures at residential hotels in The City.

Courtesy video imageSeveral former San Francisco police officers are facing federal charges stemming from allegedly illegal searches and seizures at residential hotels in The City.

Jury selection was completed in federal court Monday in the corruption trial of two San Francisco police officers accused of stealing money and property during searches in 2009.

Opening statements and testimony in the trial of Sgt. Ian Furminger, 48, of Pleasant Hill and Officer Edmond Robles, 47, of Danville are expected to begin Nov. 10 before the jury in the court of U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco.

The officers were all part of plainclothes investigation teams whose alleged misdeeds in searches conducted at single-room-occupancy hotels in the Mission and Tenderloin and on Sixth Street — including allegedly searching rooms without warrants — were captured on video revealed by the Public Defender's Office in 2011.

A third defendant, former Officer Reynaldo Vargas, 46, of Palm Desert, pleaded guilty before Breyer to four felony counts Oct. 28 and agreed to testify against the other two men.

Following that plea bargain, prosecutors obtained a revised and expanded grand jury indictment against Furminger and Robles on Oct. 30.

The officers were originally charged in a six-count indictment in February. The revised indictment contains nine counts, including new charges of using wire communications to commit fraud and depriving the people of San Francisco of the officers' honest services.

Both Furminger and Robles are charged with eight counts and the ninth charge accuses Furminger alone of extorting property from an individual identified by the initials S.S. in 2011 and 2012.

The other eight counts include two counts of wire fraud, two counts of honest services fraud, conspiracy against civil rights, conspiracy to commit theft from a federally funded program, theft and conspiracy to distribute drugs.

A previous charge of selling marijuana was dropped from the revised indictment against Furminger and Robles.

The theft-conspiracy count adds new examples of alleged thefts during searches.

In addition to an earlier allegation that the officers stole a $500 Apple gift card during an apartment search in March 2009, the revised conspiracy count also alleges that either Robles or both Robles and Furminger joined Vargas in stealing money during four other searches in Newark and San Francisco between May and November 2009.

After stealing the money, the officers “split it among themselves” each time, the indictment alleges.

The counts each carry maximum sentences ranging from three to 10 years in prison, if the officers are convicted.

Vargas pleaded guilty before Breyer last week to charges in the original indictment of conspiracy to distribute drugs, distribution of marijuana, conspiracy to commit theft, and theft of more than $5,000 worth of property from a federally funded program.

A sentencing date has not been set.Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsIan FurmingerPolice CorruptionSan Francisco Police

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