Federal trial begins in San Francisco police officer corruption case

Tuesday, November 4, 2014
EMBED <>More Videos

The federal trial has begun in the case of two San Francisco police officers accused in a major corruption case.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The federal trial has begun in the case of two San Francisco police officers accused in a major corruption case. On Monday, they started selecting the jury in a courtroom at the federal building in San Francisco. The two veteran officers are accused of corruption under the color of authority. The reported abuses happened between 2009 and 2011.

In Feb., a federal grand jury indicted Sgt. Ian Furminger and Officer Edmond Robles of criminal conspiracies that included stealing money, drugs, and other items from suspects in criminal cases.

Former Officer Reynaldo Vargas, who was seen in security video, pleaded guilty to similar charges and has promised to testify against his former colleagues.

The department fired Vargas for unrelated violations of department policy.

The three-year federal investigation started when public defender Jeff Adachi released security video showing undercover police from Southern Station in residential hotels. Three officers were indicted for violating suspects' rights under the color of law.

The investigation extended to separate allegations that Mission Station officers were also violating suspects' civil rights.

That probe resulted in the indictments of Furminger, Robles, and Vargas.

Adachi says the case is important and that they public should know that officers are not above the law.

"I think it's important to hold police officers accountable when something like this occurs, because it increases the level of trust between the police and the community," he said.

Martin Halloran is president of the Police Officers Association. He says the group is standing beside Furminger and Robles.

"They're anxious that this now will be in front of a jury -- fair and impartial -- and they're eager to have the truth come out in court," he said. "This is what they want."

Teresa Caffese is Robles' lawyer. She says former cop Vargas is trying to get leniency by accusing her client of wrongdoing.

"The department did the right thing and got rid of a very bad apple and now he is essentially the star witness for the government in this case," she said.

Brian Getz, attorney for Furminger, says his client is a good cop and he's done nothing wrong.

"In the 20 years that since he's been in the force he's been shot, he's been stabbed, people have tried to run him over, all in the line of duty," Getz said.

If they pick a jury by end of day Monday, opening statements are supposed to start Monday.

Now in regard to the other case involving the three officers at Southern Station who were on the security videos, that trial is expected to start in Jan.