Fresno, California - Derik Carson Kumagai, 41, and Saykham Somphoune a/k/a, “Oat,” 41, both residents of Fresno, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit bribery, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to the defendants’ plea agreements and other court documents, beginning in April of 2012, federal law enforcement was investigating a group of individuals, including defendant Somphoune and one of his associates, for suspected cultivation and distribution of marijuana. In October and November of 2013, defendant Somphuone had a series of meetings with his associate, some of which were attended by defendant Kumagai. At the time, Kumagai was a Fresno Police Department Detective. During these meetings, the associate was told that he was under federal investigation, but that in return for a bribe payment, defendant Kumagai could close the investigation and arrange to have the associate designated as a confidential informant for the Fresno Police Department. On November 6, 2013, the associate paid Kumagai approximately $20,000 cash. A few hours later, the associate signed documents for the purported purpose of becoming a confidential informant for the Fresno Police Department. The defendants were arrested in March of 2014, and the associate never actually served as a confidential informant for the Fresno Police Department.
“The defendants attempted to take advantage of the trust placed in law enforcement officers for their personal gain,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner. “Law enforcement officers who accept bribes put the public and other law enforcement officers in danger.”
“There is absolutely no room for such egregious misconduct in law enforcement,” said Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the Sacramento FBI. “Individuals who commit such crimes undermine public trust and betray the other fine officers who serve the public honestly and with the highest degree of integrity, while risking their lives daily to protect their communities.”
DEA 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.”
“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.”
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer and the Fresno Police Department cooperated with federal law enforcement throughout the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Grant B. Rabenn and Kevin P. Rooney are prosecuting the case.
Kumagai and Somphoune are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Anthony W. Ishii on May 4, 2015. Kumagai and Somphoune face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 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.
This case is the product of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), 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.