It’s hard to know what’s more disheartening: That two more local law enforcement officers abused the trust of this community to commit crimes and enrich themselves; or the downright obsequious manner in which the “authorities” have dealt with all these dirty cops.

They are dirty cops.

We should consider them the lowest of the low.

They endangered the safety of fellow officers and smeared their departments’ reputations because their $80k-plus pay and gold-plated pensions just weren’t enough.

Low.

And yet, the U.S. Department of “Justice” gives these guys sweetheart plea deals that have ended in candy-coated low term sentences, with apologies from judges and handshakes from prosecutors.

And now, the DOJ thinks so little of the public it didn’t even bother to notify us about the latest set of plea deals for two Kern County sheriff’s deputies.

But oooohhhhhh, boy, a Mexican national grows pot in the forest and the DOJ whips out press releases like Pez candies.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Office is mum on the entire thing, refusing even to say whether it has conducted an overview of how evidence is handled so this doesn’t happen again.

But Sheriff Donny Youngblood makes sure every camera is rolling while he spits fury over an incorrect report that he doesn’t play well with ICE and takes up everyone’s time and energy trying to get Kern declared a law and order, “non-sanctuary” county.

There is something seriously wrong with this picture.

And, frankly, it’s difficult to know where we go from here.

The California Attorney General’s office is already investigating both the Bakersfield Police Department and Sheriff’s Office for allegations of civil rights abuses in several high-profile officer-involved deaths in the community.

Do we really have to add “law enforcement drug cartels” to the list?

Because it’s pretty obvious now that former BPD Chief Greg Williamson and U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert were — well, let’s be generous and say they were “wrong” — when they both assured the public that the corruption ended with former BPD Officers Damacio Diaz and Patrick Mara.

And no, I don’t buy the nuance that they were just talking about BPD.

Especially when Diaz was telling anyone who’d listen that this was widespread.

So wide, apparently, that it included sheriff’s deputies Logan August and Derrick Penney, who named Mara and “others” as co-conspirators in their plea deals.

If you go back to Diaz’s 68-page statement in September 2016, he specifically mentions the three-county High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area anti-drug task force as essentially unsupervised and wide open for possible corruption, in which he fully engaged.

That was clearly an uncontained situation.

Mara, you may recall, backed Williamson’s claims and denied allegations that other officers were involved after his sentencing.

Yeah, there’s a guy with sterling credibility.

Speaking of credibility, I’m hoping someone in the Sheriff’s Office, BPD, DOJ and federal court system thinks that’s important to regain.

If so, I have a couple of new vocabulary words for them — transparency and fairness.

To date, neither the DOJ nor BPD has released any information on the investigation of five other BPD officers, one of whom resigned mid-stream, as part of the Mara/Diaz debacle.

That probably runs afoul of the Police Officer Bill of Rights. Something I continue to advocate must be reformed so the public can get a reasonable amount of information on how officers are performing one of the most critical jobs in society.

But without any information, not to mention Chief Williamson’s surprise early retirement, the public is left to wonder whether other problem officers were simply swept under the rug to avoid an all-out department meltdown.

And how about releasing the full extent of charges initially leveled against August and Penney?

The DOJ says it can’t do that as part of the plea agreements.

That does nothing but fuel speculation of widespread corruption in the Sheriff’s Office.

Speaking of which, that department could do itself a lot of good by opening up at least on whether procedures — or at least the locks — were changed for evidence lockers.

And finally, in the interest of giving fairness a try, it would be refreshing if the federal courts took off the kid gloves and treated these dirty cops even close to the average drug trafficker.

We’ll see if things have changed when Penney and August go to court May 15.

The maximum sentence would be five years for each, plus a $250,000 fine.

But, per the plea agreements, federal prosecutors will recommend a less stringent punishment.

Prosecutors had recommended double-digit sentences for Mara and Diaz but the judge in that case opted for five years.

At the very least, this time around, perhaps the judge could refrain from publicly lamenting that he can’t pay for the education of one of the dirty cop’s kids — as he did in the Diaz case.

And people wonder why some in the community don’t trust the “justice system.”

Contact Californian columnist Lois Henry at 395-7373 or lhenry@bakersfield.com. Her work appears on Sundays and Wednesdays; the views expressed are her own.

(11) comments

amtfor attorneys

how many more bad apples will roll when u decide to look at the courts the judges and attorneys my god it will roll lets not forget the city people who run this place and there perks time to clean house citizens of kern maybe people are afraid cause they can get even like refuse your tax bill and force u into death like they tried to do with Ceasar Chavez visit his Place in Keean and u will read what this town tried to do to him. theres always bad apples when they are in charge

Copper

Bad cops ,sad. Stealing marijuana not cool.But the real story no one wants to report is the glaring cluster bomb that is kern county family court. Super corrupt attorneys minors counsel and the judges that turn a blind eye. Women and children being impoverished no child support or alimony for years and years . Mothers losing custody over blatant lies with zero evidence. Can someone say third world country? Who has the courage to report on this?

Horsegirl63

I certainly wish someone would! Family Court in Kern County is an absolute travesty! Attorney's are ripping clients off left and right! We put our money, faith and most fragile emotions in these "professionals" only to get trailed hearings, February 28th to June 5th, (Are you kidding me???), no child support, alimony or one word uttered in court! Just chamber conferences, hallway discussions and then the bill! The judge acts like he doesn't want to hear it and makes it blatantly obvious! I'm disgusted! No one cares about the children in these cases. They are lost somewhere in the frivolous subpoenas, made up witness lists, exaggerated Requests For Order, full of lies! But it's whoever files it first, gets ahead of the game. I'm sick just writing this! There is hope tho..... by the grace of God, I found an amazing person who happens to be an attorney. So it has brought a glimmer of hope back into our lives. God help us!

amtfor attorneys

thank you for what you said u r so right do u know that I watched one of these bloated attorneys jaywalk every morning to court even in front of the police car clen these jerks out of the court systems and attornys who rip u off they are now considered used car sales men there job title are a joke

amtfor attorneys

your local attorneys do crimes everyday when they jerk there clients around charging them for stuff they don't do come on everyone knows this in the court room the judge knows when the attorny says he wants to continue at a later date that means u just got charged for him being there and not having your case ready, they lie ,don't file papers when the judge tells them to, who gives a rats but about the customer then they jaywalk to court I see it all the time theres crime in our courts everyday just look at the people there its written on there faces the attorney is racking them over.

throw the bull

Given the extreme number of burglaries and the obvious lack of traffic/speed enforcement in town, in addition to these crimes, one might think that "an all-out department meltdown" has already occurred.

amtfor attorneys

Im just waiting for justice from the Layers and judges for there lack of justice for the community the rip off fees the judges who are to tired to hear cases for all the contuine this case later bs and attic makes money for nothing the whole system is out of control when a lawyer is allowed to jaywalk everyday to court while a police car rolls by and lets it go time to set strict rules for the county court s

CampusSupervisor

It would be interesting to know when Youngblood became aware of his officer's misconduct .. was an nternal investigation done that led to their resignation in lieu of termination? Surely the Sheriff was aware of the criminal investigation? and he still has not commented publically? Hoping it goes unnoticed or conducting a coverup seems to be a foolish tactic.

Brian

Hey Lois, why don't you wait for the investigation to run its course before you open your big mouth and convict the departments before ant real evidence is put out. Just because you want Bakersfield to be like l.a. And San Francisco a liberal sanctuary cesspool with your little thug illegals and gang bangers running free and funded by the working folks paying high taxes. Also sinc you have never been a sworn peace officer you have no clue on how important the pobar rights are to the men and women in uniform protecting you from the thugs you advocate for so strongly. If you want to work on a cause start with callers and find a way to get there pensions taken away for the conviction this is the real travesty here.

Nevermind

Yeah, that's what you should take out of the article, that Lois supports thugs, that cops should be held to a lower standard than those thugs, and that you shouldnt have an opinion about corruption if you've never worn the uniform, even AFTER the convictions. Got it.

amtfor attorneys

they may be thug and gang bangers but what are the judges and attorneys they are the same just better cloths crooks all the way around

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