FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --A former member of a legendary running team in the Central Valley has run into some serious trouble with the law. He's headed to prison for a series of crimes committed while working as a police officer.
Damacio Diaz was handed down a five-year sentence in federal prison for drug trafficking, bribery and other charges. He's a former 20-year veteran of the Bakersfield Police Department and was handed down his punishment Monday in front of a courtroom full of Diaz's family members and friends.
After he was arrested last year, Diaz ultimately admitted to bribery and drug trafficking while he was a narcotics officer.
"This case is finally over and we are extremely blessed and happy to announce that we are victorious," Diaz said.
Diaz is well-known in Kern County for being the son of a farmworker who worked in the fields as a child and member of the 1987 state championship cross country team from McFarland. His story was depicted in the 2015 movie "McFarland USA." His coach, Jim White, who was played by Kevin Costner in the film, was also at the sentencing in support of Diaz.
His family has been applauded for their contributions to society with Damacio moving on to become a Bakersfield Police officer. Cameras were not allowed inside the courtroom but during his two-hour-long sentencing, his brother, daughter and wife shed tears as they begged the judge for leniency.
Diaz himself condemned his actions but even the prosecutor acknowledged that his case his rare -- an outstanding citizen who spent a few years committing reprehensible crimes.
"They're an American success story," assistant US attorney Brian Delaney said. "And he's a product of that family and, unfortunately, he besmirched their honor and integrity and it's a difficult thing."