Bakersfield, California - Damacio Diaz, 43, of McFarland, California, a detective with the Bakersfield, California, Police Department (BPD), was arrested Friday, charged with abusing his position of trust as a police detective when he conspired with and assisted a narcotics dealer in the operation of the dealer’s drug organization, announced U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner of the Eastern District of California, Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the FBI’s Sacramento Division, DEA Special Agent in Charge John J. Martin, Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas McMahon of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) and Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson.
The charges are contained in a 16-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury Thursday.
The indictment charges that Diaz, in exchange for bribes from the dealer, provided the dealer with intelligence on law enforcement practices and activities, disclosed the names and identities of police informants, tipped the dealer off as to police investigations and attempted to provide the dealer protection from search, seizure, arrest and prosecution. The indictment also charges Diaz with bribery, retaining seized narcotics on multiple occasions for his own unlawful gain, disclosing contents of a wiretap investigation and two counts of filing false tax returns.
Diaz has been on paid administrative leave from the BPD since this investigation was initiated. He is scheduled to be arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston of the Eastern District of California in Bakersfield at 2:30 p.m.
“When a police officer misuses his badge to commit crimes for personal profit, it is the ultimate betrayal of public trust,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner. “While it is a sad day for the Bakersfield Police Department, the department should be proud of the outstanding work it has done, together with the FBI, DEA, and IRS-CI, effectively investigating this case over the last few months.”
“No one is above the law,” said Special Agent in Charge Miller. “The alleged criminal activity put law enforcement officers at grave risk and significantly undermines public trust in law enforcement. The FBI is committed to working with its enforcement partners to root out officers who have abused their trusted role, and we thank the Bakersfield Police Department, DEA and IRS for their assistance with this extensive investigation.”
“The criminal behavior alleged in this case is reprehensible,” said Special Agent in Charge Martin. “Officers take an oath to protect, serve and uphold the law. Actions like those alleged in the indictment shatter that promise and threaten the safety of fellow officers and the communities we are sworn to protect. DEA is proud to partner with the many law enforcement officers and agencies that won’t stand for criminal conduct within the ranks.”
"Law enforcement officers are held to a higher standard”, said Acting Special Agent in Charge McMahon. “Having knowledge of the laws, there is an even greater expectation to follow those laws. When individuals working in an official capacity violate the trust of their communities by abusing that power, they undermine the hard work of the entire law enforcement community.”
“I am deeply disappointed by the indictment and arrest of Bakersfield Police Detective Damacio Diaz,” said Chief Williamson. “The behavior and criminal activity stated in the indictment is not reflective of the commitment and awesome public service the over 500 employees of the Bakersfield Police Department provide to our community on a consistent basis. Detectives from the department’s investigative and internal administrative divisions have worked side by side with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office during the entirety of this investigation. I am proud of their work and diligence in first bringing this case forward and seeing it through to completion.”
According to count one of the indictment, from April 18, 2012, to Feb. 20, 2015, Diaz conspired with a narcotics dealer to distribute methamphetamine. Counts two through four charge Diaz with accepting over $5,000 in bribes in each calendar year of 2012, 2013 and 2014 in return for being influenced and rewarded in connection with his official acts as a BPD police detective. Counts five through 13 charge Diaz with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, wherein Diaz retained methamphetamine for his own personal gain that came into his care and control in the course of his duties as a BPD narcotics detective. Count 14 charges Diaz with the intentional disclosure of wiretap information in order to obstruct, impede or interfere with a criminal investigation. The indictment also alleges that Diaz filed false tax returns for tax years 2012 and 2013.
This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI, DEA, IRS-CI and the BPD. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian K. Delaney and Angela Scott of the Eastern District of California are prosecuting the case.
If convicted of the charges in the indictment, Diaz faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison for the conspiracy, 10 years in prison for each count of bribery, 20 years in prison to life for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, five years in prison for each count of intentional disclosure of wiretap information, and three years in prison for each count of making a false income tax return. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.