A man who conspired with two Bakersfield police detectives to sell methamphetamine and marijuana stolen by the detectives was sentenced Monday to seven and a half years in federal prison.
Noel Carter, 45, of Bakersfield, was also sentenced in U.S. District Court in Fresno to five years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $70,513 in restitution to a former employer, and to forfeit $286,251 representing proceeds from his drug trafficking activity, said a spokeswoman for the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.
Prosecutors had agreed to recommend a penalty on the low end of the sentencing range for his cooperation in the case. However, Carter’s sentencing of seven and a half years was significantly higher than the five-year sentences handed down to his co-conspirators, former BPD Detectives Damacio Diaz and Patrick Mara, who were each sentenced in 2016 to five years in federal prison.
Besides pleading guilty to conspiring with the officers to sell methamphetamine and marijuana between April 2012 and August 2015 — seized drugs the two detectives deliberately failed to submit to the BPD evidence room — Carter had agreed to amend tax returns he filed during that period to reflect $480,000 in previously unreported income.
Carter had been employed as a contract manager for Pacific Workplaces, which offers virtual offices and short-term office rentals. Court records say Carter took more than $70,000 from customers and deposited the payments into his personal account at Chase Bank between September 2016 and September 2017, when he was fired.
The revelations that two Bakersfield police detectives had entered into a drug sales conspiracy with a third individual that included admissions of bribery and informing criminal partners of sensitive law enforcement activities rocked the BPD to its core.
The web of conspiracy and corruption would prove to extend even further — to a pair of deputies in the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.
Derrick Penney, who was assigned to the Gang Suppression Unit, and Logan August, assigned to the Major Vendors Narcotics Unit, pleaded guilty in 2017 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana as part of a criminal plot that also involved Mara.
According to the plea agreements, the pair admitted to engaging in the theft from the sheriff’s own storage unit of cannabis that had been previously confiscated from illegal grow operations.
The two deputies “abused” their positions of trust and authority, a plea agreement stated, “to take for unlawful personal gain marijuana plants from KCSO property that had been seized in the course of … marijuana eradication operations.”
Both men were sentenced to probation only, and received no prison time.
Carter would not be so fortunate. In a sentencing memorandum filed April 2, federal prosecutors argued that Carter could not support his contention that he was “substantially less culpable than the average participant in the conspiracy.
“Carter did not play a limited function within the conspiracy (such as a mule or a person who simply stores drugs),” the prosecution argued. “Carter instead was fully aware of the entire scope and structure of the conspiracy, voluntarily joined it, was instrumental in its success and reaped a large percentage of its profits.”