Five San Francisco police officers and one former officer — including one from San Mateo — have been indicted on charges of civil rights violations related to alleged illegal searches and theft of property seized from people arrested, federal prosecutors announced today.
The six men were charged in two separate indictments issued under seal by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on Tuesday and unsealed today. The indictments were announced by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.
In one indictment, three officers formerly assigned to the Police Department’s Southern Station are accused of conspiracy against civil rights and deprivation of rights in connection with unauthorized searches of single-room-occupancy residential hotel rooms in 2010 and 2011.
Those officers are Arshad Razzak, 41, and Richard Yick, 37, of San Francisco, and Raul Eric Elias, 44, of San Mateo.
The indictment alleges they conspired to “injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate” residential hotel occupants by entering and searching their rooms without legal justification. The officers are accused of additional counts of illegally searching two rooms in December 2010 and January 2011.
Razzak and Yick are also each charged with two counts of falsifying records and reports of the searches.
The allegedly illegal searches came to light in March 2011 when San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi released surveillance videos from a Tenderloin neighborhood hotel that showed events that he said were inconsistent with police reports and sworn police testimony.
Haag said the federal probe began after District Attorney George Gascon, who was police chief at the time of the incidents, cited a conflict of interest and referred the matter to U.S. authorities.
In the second indictment, two current officers and one former officer formerly assigned to the Mission Station are accused of conspiracy against civil rights, conspiracy to distribute drugs, conspiracy to steal from a government program and sale of marijuana.
The indictment alleges they took for their own benefit property, money and drugs they had seized during an arrest in March 2009. Those defendants are Sgt. Ian Furminger, 47, of Pleasant Hill; Officer Edmond Robles, 46, of Danville; and former officer Reynaldo Vargas, 45, of Palm Desert.
Vargas was scheduled to make an initial appearance before a magistrate this afternoon and the five officers are due in court on Friday. Adachi said in a statement, “Today’s indictments are confirmation that the constitutional rights of San Franciscans matter.
“I commend the U.S. Attorney for taking seriously the reports from ordinary citizens who had been humiliated, stolen from and hurt by police officers sworn to protect them,” Adachi said.