Fresno detective out of jail in drug extortion and bribery case

Derik Kumagai is just one of several current and former Fresno officers mixed up in criminal investigations.
March 19, 2014 4:04:37 PM PDT
A Fresno police detective accused of taking a $20,000 bribe is out of jail. Derik Kumagai is just one of several current and former Fresno officers mixed up in criminal investigations.

Kumagai pleaded "not guilty" in federal court Wednesday. Detective Kumagai is no longer in jail because a federal judge released him on his own recognizance, saying he's not a flight risk. But whether he'll ever get his badge back remains to be seen.

Kumagai had nothing to say when he walked out of jail.

"Understand that while he's been in custody, he's been in protective custody because he's a police officer of many years and has probably had some contact with some of those people in the jail," said Kumagai's attorney, Marshall Hodgkins.

Federal prosecutors say Kumagai accepted a $20,000 bribe in exchange for making a drug trafficking suspect a confidential police informant. The crimes alleged to have been committed on the job so the Fresno Police Officer's Association, Kumagai's union, is paying for his defense.

"Anytime a police officer is accused of doing any wrongdoing it's serious. It's important to us we have the support of our community so we don't take these things lightly," said FPOA president Jacky Parks. The FPOA reaffirms Kumagai is innocent until proven guilty.

Right now he's not the only Fresno officer being scrutinized. On Tuesday 10-year Fresno Police veteran David Mendoza plead not guilty in superior court for fraud charges related to a stolen car report. He is no longer with the department.

Last Thursday, Action News reported Officer Alfred Campos is suspected of auto theft, but has not been charged with a crime. He is on paid leave.

Legal analyst Ralph Torres says these three cases could weigh on the department's public perception.

Torres also says what's more of a challenge is the reputation of Kumagai's detective work. Open investigations are most at risk for compromise. "Those are the ones that are going to be impacted the most because you're, a detective, is a witness in the case. Credibility is a big deal," Torres said.

Chief Jerry Dyer said Tuesday this is not a systemic problem. He also promised to look into the department's checks and balances.

Kumagai remains on paid leave as his case moves through the federal court system.


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