Former Richmond Cops Plead Guilty To Obstructing Justice
OAKLAND, Calif. – Danny Harris Jr. and Raymond Thomas Jr., former officers with the Richmond Police Department, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced. Harris also pleaded guilty to making false statements to a firearms dealer in order to buy two Glock pistols for minors. Thomas entered his guilty plea in federal court in Oakland on March 6, 2012. Harris entered his guilty pleas today.
Harris, 31, of Pinole, Calif., and Thomas, 34, of Fairfield, Calif., were indicted on July 21, 2011. Harris was charged with three counts of making a material false statement in connection with purchasing two different firearms from a federally licensed firearms dealer in San Jose, Calif. In connection with purchasing a third firearm from the same firearms dealer, Harris was also charged with making a false statement in a record required to be kept by the dealer. Harris and Thomas were both charged with two counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice and tamper with witnesses.
In pleading guilty, both Harris and Thomas admitted that they ran a private security guard company while employed by the Richmond Police Department. The company, Strategic Reliance Group, employed, among others, armed security guards who were under the age of 21. In pleading guilty today, Harris admitted that in June and November 2009, he purchased Glock pistols for two of the underage employees from a firearms dealer in San Jose. Harris acknowledged that he knew that it would have been illegal for the dealer to sell the guns to individuals who were under 21. He accepted money from the two employees, purchased two Glock pistols, and then turned the firearms over to the employees. Harris admitted that when he filled out the requisite Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives forms at the time of purchases, he falsely stated that he was the actual buyer of the two guns when, in fact, he knew the true buyers were the underage security guard employees.
In pleading guilty, Harris and Thomas admitted that by approximately September 2010, Harris had told Thomas about the purchase of at least one of the guns. This particular gun was still in the possession of one of the security guards. Knowing that the purchase may have violated federal law and that the gun may constitute evidence of a federal crime, Thomas admitted having agreed to help Harris get the gun back, with the intent to obstruct, influence, or impede a federal grand jury investigation or federal court proceedings. Specifically, Thomas said he sent a letter to the employee in September 2010, representing that he had purchased the Glock 22 from Harris, and demanding delivery of the gun to himself. He further admitted having filed a lawsuit in Small Claims Court in Contra Costa County against the employee, stating that he had purchased the gun from the original owner for $500. Harris admitted knowing that Thomas undertook these actions with the goal of gaining control of the gun.
In exchange for Harris’s guilty plea, the United States agreed to dismiss the remaining gun charges and the second obstruction conspiracy charge against him, and to recommend a sentence of no more than eighteen months. In exchange for Thomas’s guilty plea, the United States agreed to dismiss the second obstruction conspiracy charge against him, and to recommend a sentence of no more than four months.
The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on June 19, 2012, before U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland. Harris and Thomas will remain on bail pending their sentencings. The maximum penalty for each count of making a material false statement in connection with the acquisition of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6), is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to obstruct justice, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(k), is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Susan E. Badger and Hartley M. K. West are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Legal Assistant Rosario Calderon. The prosecution is the result of investigations led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Richmond Police Department.