The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has filed charges against 10 present and former police officers from the California cities of Antioch and Pittsburg Thursday in a major federal corruption case.
“Today is a dark day in our city’s history, as people trusted to uphold the law, allegedly breached that trust and were arrested by the FBI,” Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe said in a statement.
The charges range from cheating on training courses to serious violations of civil rights, Mercury News reported. The focus of the allegations is mainly on Antioch Police Department (APD), which has reportedly faced complaints about excessive force and a scandal involving racist text messages.
Chief Steven Ford pledges full cooperation with the California Department of Justice and announces APD acceptance into a new trust building initiative with 25 key policies. Please read the attached media release for further details pertaining to both topics. pic.twitter.com/ArZvxsO28H
— Antioch Police (@AntiochPolice) May 11, 2023
Three officers, two currently serving and one former, are accused of committing civil rights violations, per Mercury News. The charges alleged they planned violence against specific people, kept “trophies” of their actions and lied in official reports to cover up their deeds.
Text messages exchanged between the officers reportedly reveal conversations discussing violent plans and sharing pictures of the people they targeted. In one instance, officers discussed a plan for violence, Mercury News noted.
APD Officer Devon Wenger wrote, “We need to get into something tonight bro!! Lets go 3 nights in a row dog bite.”
Later that day, APD Officer Morteza Amiri texted Wenger pictures of an injured person they allegedly pulled out of a car and threw to the ground, Mercury News reported.
Federal officials also charged Wenger and former APD Officer Daniel Harris with possession of and conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids, according to Mercury News. Authorities charged former APD Officer Timothy Manly Williams with obstruction for allegedly interfering with an ongoing homicide and attempted murder investigation.
The FBI charged Amiri, former APD Officer Samantha Peterson, and former Pittsburgh Officers Patrick Berhan, Brauli Rodriguez Jalapa, Ernesto Juan Mejia-Orozco and Amanda Theodosy-Nash with conspiring to cheat on training courses for pay raises, the outlet noted.
The FBI arrested the officers during raids in the Bay Area, Hawaii and Texas, wrapping up a two-year investigation, per Mercury News. Their cases will be heard in California. Several officers have already pled not guilty and given bail.
“To those that have accused me and others of being anti-police for seeking to reform the Antioch Police Department, today’s arrests are demonstrative of the issues that have plagued the Antioch Police Department for decades,” Thorpe said in the statement. “Seeking to reform the Antioch Police Department is not anti-police, it is pro our residents, and pro officers that have served and continue to serve with honor.”