A federal corruption investigation resulted in charges involving nine current or former Northern California police officers. Evidence showed that they committed civil rights violations and fraud to get a pay raise and lied to cover up excessive force. U.S. Attorney Ismail Ramsey filed four indictments that outlined charges including wire fraud, deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy against rights, and conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids, the Associated Press reports. Nine police officers and one community service officer are named. The investigation centered on police departments in Antioch and Pittsburg. Only three of the officers remained employed by the departments and were not on active duty. Arrest warrants were served Thursday in California, Texas and Hawaii.
Morteza Amiri, Eric Allen Rombough, Patrick Berhan, Samantha Peterson, Brauli Rodriguez Jalapa and Ernesto Juan Mejia-Orozco pleaded not guilty to various charges, and most were released on condition that they posted property bonds. Thousands of incendiary text messages by more than a dozen officers in the Antioch Police Department previously came to light, including at least two of the officers involved in the corruption investigation. The texts contained derogatory, racist, homophobic and sexually explicit language. In some of them, the officers bragged about making up evidence and beating up suspects. They freely used racial slurs and made light of the police killing of George Floyd in 2020. “Today is a dark day in our city’s history, as people trusted to uphold the law, allegedly breached that trust and were arrested by the FBI,” said Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe. “As our city absorbs this tragic news, we must come together as one. Today’s actions are the beginning of the end of a long and arduous process.”