FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno's former deputy police chief and five others entered not guilty pleas Friday afternoon. At least a few of them believe they're facing more serious charges simply because of the man at the center of the drug trafficking investigation.
"The only reason the accusations against my client are in federal court is because of Mr. Foster," said Yan Shrayberman, who represents Randy Flowers.
Federal prosecutors say Keith Foster, 51, is the hub where at least three spokes led in an interstate drug trafficking operation.
The punishments in federal court are usually harsher than those in state court about three blocks away. And at least two of Foster's co-defendants are convinced their cases belong in the place where they wouldn't be facing as much time in prison.
Foster walked out of federal court Friday in the brown suit of a civilian instead of the blue uniform of a Fresno police officer. The long-time deputy chief turned in his badge a week ago because of the drug trafficking charges to which he pleaded not guilty shortly before the long walk past our camera.
A grand jury indictment mentions four separate dates when Foster allegedly distributed oxycodone through his nephew Randy Flowers. Flowers' attorney tells me the number of pills involved is a lot smaller than you'd see in a typical federal case.
"The amounts that are alleged against my client are amounts you would usually see in state court," Shrayberman said.
The indictment also accuses Foster of conspiracy to deal in heroin and marijuana with five other people, including another nephew, Iran Dennis Foster. The other defendants also entered not guilty pleas with the exception of Ricky Reynolds.
The 30-year-old Shasta Lake man was first mentioned in the indictment Thursday and is supposed to turn himself in soon. He told a local reporter he wouldn't recognize the former deputy chief if he saw him. He'll come face-to-face with Foster soon enough, though, as well as the other spokes on a wheel allegedly leading to the man who was, at the time, second in command at the Fresno Police Department.
"This is more like a hub-type of conspiracy where Keith Foster is the intermediary between everybody," Shrayberman said. "The other sides don't know about each other."
The clock is now ticking on the case. Prosecutors have two weeks to turn over evidence to the defense attorneys and a trial could come within two months, although it's more likely to be delayed.
Ex-Fresno Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster could create extra trouble for co-defendants
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