More federal indictments possible in Antioch, Pittsburg PD FBI investigation, officials say

Anser Hassan Image
Saturday, August 19, 2023
More indictments possible in Antioch, Pittsburg PD FBI investigation
Some legal experts believe more federal indictments could be handed down against Antioch and Pittsburg police officers.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Some legal experts believe more federal indictments could be handed down against Antioch and Pittsburg police officers as part of the FBI said on Thursday that its investigation is not over.

And the four FBI indictments that were unsealed on Thursday against some officers will likely impact on cases that are currently underway.

"I know in the conspiracy charge, part of the charge includes overt acts of planning to use excessive force against individuals. And I believe Trent Allen and Terryon Pugh are identified as some of the people that they deliberately used excessive use of force against," says attorney Carmela Caramagno, who represents Pugh.

Pugh was arrested two years ago for an attempted shooting. He is also one of the men named in the Antioch police texting scandal.

VIDEO: 10 Pittsburg, Antioch police officers charged in civil rights, corruption probe: authorities

Federal authorities have charged 10 current and former Antioch and Pittsburg police officers in a corruption investigation.

Antioch police officer Eric Rombough is one the officers who was indicted by the FBI. He is set to appear in court next Friday in a case related to Pugh and three others. The hearing will explore possible violations of California's Racial Justice Act.

"My hope is, that now that the indictments have come down, and are unsealed, that we will finally be able to access the evidence that (the FBI) have against those individual officers involved in my client's case," says Caramagno.

The fourth indictment claims that Antioch police officers Morteza Amiri, Devon Wenger and Rombough conspired and agreed to "injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate residents of Antioch."

MORE: 5 Antioch, Pittsburg police officers charged for fixing traffic tickets for friends, DA says

The indictment contained this text exchange:

Officer Amiri: "I was planning on enjoying the day off. But f-k them for f--king with (an officer)."

Officer Rombough: "Me too and exactly. I'm gonna f-k someone up and hopefully get you a bite."

Officer Amiri: "Exactly! blood for blood."

The Antioch Police Department posts a bio and photos on its Facebook page as officer the join the force. They did the same for Officer Rombough, Officer Amiri and Officer Wenger.

"To police the police. That is what we are asking the federal government to do. And that is precisely how they are approaching this particular set of indictments," explains Greg Woods, a professor of criminal justice at San Jose State University.

Professors Woods says conspiracy has historically been tough to prove. But in an era of social media and smart phones, there's been a shift. He says the text messages written by these officers shows the officers' state of mind - and in their own words.

"And now that we have the texts that indicates between these particular parties, who are presumably in agreement that this I what they are in agreement to do. Well, it becomes a lot easier to prove an overt act, and furtherance of the criminal conspiracy," says Woods.

MORE: New report reveals Antioch officers referred to police chief as 'gorilla' in text messages

A new 128-page Contra Costa County District Attorney's report reveals Antioch officers referred to Police Chief Steven Ford as a "gorilla."

Contra Costa County's Chief Public Defender Ellen McDonnell calls the FBI investigation "historic." But warns more indictments could still come since the FBI says their investigation is still on going.

"That is going to take years and years to find justice for the victims of these officers and of police agencies that turned a blind eye to this misconduct and corruption," say McDonnell.

ABC7 News reach out to attorneys representing the officers for comment, which went unanswered.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live