Fresno, California - Damacio Diaz, 44, of McFarland, formerly a detective with the Bakersfield Police Department, pled guilty Tuesday to bribery, possession and attempted possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, and making and subscribing a false income tax return, Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, between April 2012 and February 2015, while employed as a police officer with the Bakersfield Police Department (BPD), Diaz handled a criminal informant who was involved in the large-scale sale and distribution of methamphetamine. Diaz continued to operate the informant even though he was fully aware of the informant’s ongoing criminal activity. During this time, Diaz received bribes from the informant in return for intelligence on law enforcement activities as well as protection from investigation and arrest.
In addition to accepting illegal bribes, Diaz also engaged in drug trafficking while with the BPD. On September 20, 2012, while on duty, Diaz stopped a vehicle operated by two individuals from Yakima, Washington and used a BPD dog handler and police dog to search the vehicle. The search uncovered an ice chest containing approximately 10 pounds of methamphetamine divided into multiple bags. The BPD dog handler did not seize any of the drugs from the vehicle, but turned the scene over to Diaz and his partner to secure the methamphetamine and oversee the investigation of the incident. A week later, Diaz booked approximately one pound of methamphetamine from the vehicle stop into evidence. Diaz and his partner maintained possession of the remaining nine pounds of methamphetamine, and they ultimately sold it for their own personal gain.
According to the plea agreement, Diaz also filed a joint income tax return for the calendar year 2012 that falsely reported total income of $168,485 and did not include additional income of at least $97,900.
Acting U.S. Attorney Talbert stated: “The defendant attempted to take advantage of the trust placed in law enforcement officers for his personal gain. Law enforcement officers who accept bribes put the public and other law enforcement officers in danger. We appreciate the full cooperation of the Bakersfield Police Department and Chief Williamson, as well as our federal partners, in the investigation of this case.”
“Law enforcement officers who abuse their authority for personal gain betray the community they have been sworn to protect,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge John J. Martin. “DEA is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to hold those accountable who participate in criminal activity that tarnishes the badge.”
“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,” said Michael T. Batdorf, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “In exchange for cash, Detective Damacio Diaz agreed to tip-off and protect a known drug dealer. IRS CI followed the funds in his accounts and determined how much of the illegal proceeds did not make it to his tax returns. IRS-CI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who attempt to illegally profit from their trusted positions are brought to justice.”
“The public rightfully expects every law enforcement officer to obey all laws they are sworn to enforce. Damacio Diaz’s illegal activities were in conflict with public safety, the law, and the safety of his fellow officers,” said Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Sacramento field office. “Such illegal and dangerous activity is not tolerable—especially when committed by an officer sworn to protect and service his community—and the FBI will continue to work with its partners to ensure any officer who engages in illegal activities and damages public trust in law enforcement faces justice.”
Diaz has also agreed to the forfeiture of $128,000, which constitutes property which was derived from, or is traceable to the proceeds obtained directly or indirectly from the commission of his criminal conduct. This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Bakersfield Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Brian K. Delaney and Angela Scott are prosecuting the case.
Diaz is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill on September 26, 2016. Diaz faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will 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.