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    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

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    Release No. 08-007

    January 30 2008


    LOS ANGELES – Former Los Angeles Police Officer William Ferguson and his brother, former Long Beach Police Officer Joseph Ferguson, were found guilty today of participating in a robbery ring that stole narcotics under the pretense of conducting legitimate law enforcement operations.

    A federal jury found the Fergusons guilty of conspiring to violate civil rights and conspiring to possess narcotics with intent to distribute. William Ferguson was convicted of a total of 17 counts, which include substantive offenses dealing with violations of civil rights, narcotics and firearms. The jury was unable to reach verdicts on 18 counts.

    William Ferguson, 35, faces a potential life sentence in federal prison. The four weapons offenses that he was convicted of carry mandatory minimum penalties totaling 82 years.
    Joseph Ferguson, 33, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a statutory maximum penalty of 51 years in prison. United States District Judge Gary A. Feess, who presided over the trial, will hold a hearing on February 11 to consider a government request to remand into custody Joseph Ferguson, who is currently free on a $1 million bond.

    Judge Feess is scheduled to sentence the Fergusons on April 21.

    Fifteen other defendants – including other officers from the Los Angeles Police Department and a correctional officer from the California Department of Corrections – have previously pleaded guilty to federal crimes in connection with the conspiracy.

    The evidence presented during a three-week trial showed that the Ferguson brothers were part of a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy that committed at least 40 burglaries and robberies from early 1999 through June 2001. The robberies were generally committed after members of the ring received information that a particular location was involved in narcotics trafficking. After planning the operation, conducting surveillance and, in some cases, stealing LAPD patrol units, the robbery team – which usually consisted of sworn police officers either in uniform or displaying a badge – gained access to the residence by falsely telling any occupants that they were conducting a legitimate search for drugs or drug dealers. Victims were often restrained, handcuffed, threatened or assaulted during the “search.” The assaults included firing a stun gun at a victim, striking victims with police batons and putting a gun into a victim’s mouth. After obtaining narcotics, co-conspirators would sell the drugs and the profits would be split among members of the ring.

    “This case exposed a dark world of corrupt law enforcement officers who defiled their badges and compromised the good work of their colleagues,” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. “The home invasion robberies committed by these former officers shock the conscience and will lead to lengthy prison sentences that they so richly deserve.”

    Former Los Angeles Police Officer Ruben Palomares, who organized the robbery ring and was subsequently arrested during a drug transaction in San Diego, pleaded guilty in October 2004 to conspiring to violate civil rights, conspiring to possess narcotics with intent to distribute, and various substantive offenses dealing with violations of civil rights, narcotics and firearms. Palomares, who testified at the Fergusons' trial, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Feess on March 17.

    “The FBI counts public corruption as its top criminal program priority, and this case illustrates that commitment,” said Salvador Hernandez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles. “Investigators and detectives tirelessly pursued a small number of law enforcement officers who, in betrayal of their sworn duty to serve the public, used their badges and guns as instruments of terror and personal gain. The FBI, along with its law enforcement partners, will continue to root out the small percentage of sworn personnel that act outside the law.”

    Long Beach Chief of Police Anthony W. Batts stated: “The Long Beach Police Department has no tolerance for corruption and for those who tarnish our trusted badge. We support the U.S. Attorney's Office in their prosecution and have actively assisted the Federal Bureau of Investigation throughout their investigation. This individual has betrayed the department's and the public's trust and must be held to answer for his crimes.”

    This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Long Beach Police Department.

    The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Douglas M. Miller and Civil Rights Division attorneys Jeffrey S. Blumberg and Joshua D. Mahan.


    Release No. 08-007
    Return to the 2008 Press Release Index