Monthly Archives: November 2014

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Married Police Officers Plead Guilty to Running Drug Network

Two married San Diego Police officers have pleaded guilty to all drug charges against them, including burglarizing homes while on duty and running a hydrocodone distribution network in the county.

Bryce Charpentier, 32, and Jennifer Charpentier, 41, admitted Wednesday to selling and furnishing a narcotic substance, possession of a firearm by an addict, conspiracy to commit a burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime: possession and sale of a controlled substance.

As a result, the two resigned from the SDPD, effective Wednesday.

“Both of these individuals will have to face the consequences of their actions, which have diminished the great work our officers do every day to serve our City,” said SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman in a statement.

They are scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 30, and they each face up to seven years and eight months in prison.

In addition to pleading guilty, they have waived their 4th Amendment search and seizure rights, which means law enforcement can search them at any time.

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The officers’ change of plea comes two days after new charges were filed against the couple, accusing them of stealing prescription medication from their parent, burglarizing a home while on the clock as officers and leading a distribution chain.

Bryce, a six-year veteran of the SDPD, and Jennifer, an 18-year veteran, were arrested in June during a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigation.

Suspected of being addicted to opiates, both officers were initially charged with selling and furnishing a controlled narcotic substance and possession of a firearm by an addict.

Search warrants say Jennifer got seven different drugs in 71 prescriptions from seven separate doctors and then traveled to 17 pharmacies to fill them. Bryce is accused of going as far as Oakhurst near Yosemite to fill 79 prescriptions from six different doctors.

Then this week, a new complaint shed more light on the accusations against them.

In it, investigators quote text conversations between the married couple that outline their search for drugs they refer to as “V.”

One alleged victim was Jennifer’s mother. During her visit to their home, Bryce texted his wife he was coming back and pulling into the driveway. At that point, Jennifer texted she was taking her mother into the backyard, presumably to distract her while Bryce took prescription medication from her.

The final text from the conversation is from Bryce, telling Jennifer that he placed “V” for her in a candle, the complaint says.

Less than a month later, Bryce texted his wife that he got “a decent amount” during a visit to his mother-in-law’s, according to investigators.

A separate incident described in the complaint involves a victim identified as “M.B.”

According to the complaint, M.B. locked himself in his own bedroom on Jessica’s request, while Bryce and another officer came into his home to use the restroom. The given excuse was that the officer did not want M.B. to see him in his undercover clothes, the complaint says.

M.B. later found out that his legally prescribed medication was stolen.

The complaint says in January 2014, Bryce and Jennifer had offered to take over an existing hydrocodone distribution network in the county. They are accused of making deliveries while their child was with them.

According to prosecutors, the couple was found with a substantial amount of hydrocodone in their possession and was seen completing at least two transactions within a matter of hours.

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Highway seizure in Iowa fuels debate about asset-forfeiture laws

The two men in the rented red Nissan Altima were poker players traveling through Iowa on their way to Las Vegas. The police were state troopers on the hunt for criminals, contraband and cash.

They intersected last year on a rural stretch of Interstate 80, in a seemingly routine traffic stop that would soon raise new questions about laws that allow police to take money and property from people not charged with crimes.

By the time the encounter was over, the gamblers had been detained for more than two hours. Their car was searched without a warrant. And their cellphones, a computer and $100,020 of their gambling “bankroll” were seized under state civil asset-forfeiture laws. The troopers allowed them to leave, without their money, after issuing a traffic warning and a citation for possession of marijuana paraphernalia that carried a $65 fine, court records show.

Months later, an attorney for the men obtained a video of the stop. It showed that the motorists were detained for a violation they did not commit — a failure to signal during a lane change — and authorities were compelled to return 90 percent of the money.

Now the men are questioning the police tactics in an unusual federal civil rights lawsuit. In the suit, filed Sept. 29, William Barton Davis, 51, and John Newmer­zhycky, 43, both from Humboldt County, Calif., claim their constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures were violated. They also contend the stop was part of a pattern connected to the teachings of a private police-training firm that promotes aggressive tactics.

Davis is a professional poker player, and Newmerzhycky worked as glass blower, according to court records. In an interview, Davis said the men felt as though they were being “stalked” by the police.

If allowed to proceed, the lawsuit could illuminate the widespread but little-known police practice known as “highway interdiction.” The suit names Desert Snow, the Oklahoma-based training firm, and its founder, Joe David, court records show. It also names the two Iowa State Patrol troopers who participated in the traffic stop and were trained by Desert Snow.

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