Law enforcement was taking a long look at a group of individuals back in 2012 that were suspected of growing and selling marijuana.
In October and November of 2013, two members of the group had a series of meetings, some of which were attended by a man who at the time was a detective with the Fresno, California, Police Department.
During the meetings, one of the dealers was told that he was under investigation, but that in return for a bribe payment, the detective could close the investigation and arrange to have the associate designated as a confidential informant for the Fresno Police Department.
$20,000 cash payment
On November 6, 2013, the man paid the detective $20,000 in cash. A few hours later, the man signed documents for the purported purpose of becoming a confidential informant for the Fresno police. The defendants were arrested in March of 2014.
The man never served as an informant.
In March 2014, Derik Carson Kumagai, 41, and Saykham Somphoune a/k/a, “Oat,” 41, both residents of Fresno, pleaded guilty to bribery. Kumagai was the Fresno detective.
Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano stated, “The DEA will diligently work with our law enforcement counterparts to hold those accountable who tarnish the badge by engaging in criminal behavior.”
Betrayed the community
“Mr. Kumagai took an oath to uphold the law and protect citizens,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez. “Instead, he used his position for personal gain and betrayed the community he swore to protect. IRS-CI will continue to investigate public corruption to ensure everyone plays by the same rules—regardless of job or position.”
Kumagai and Somphoune are scheduled to be sentenced in May 2015. Kumagai and Somphoune face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
This case is the product of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a focused multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force investigating and prosecuting the most significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.