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Press Release

San Luis Obispo Police Officer Arrested On Federal Bribery Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – A detective with the San Luis Obispo Police Department was arrested this morning after being charged in a bribery scheme in which he allegedly took cash and narcotics from two individuals. In return, the police officer allegedly provided these “cooperating witnesses” with narcotics for their own use, as well as fake drugs to sell to drug dealers.

Cory Pierce, 39, of Arroyo Grande, was taken into custody this morning without incident by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Pierce was charged with one count of bribery in a criminal complaint filed yesterday in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, Pierce is a six-year veteran of the San Luis Obispo Police Department who was most recently assigned to a narcotics task force with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office. The complaint describes how Pierce cultivated two sources – identified in the complaint only as “CW1” and “CW2” – who have since cooperated with the FBI’s investigation.

After CW2 was arrested for heroin possession in 2011, CW2 and his girlfriend, CW1, agreed to cooperate with Pierce. But soon after they agreed to work with the police officer, Pierce made unusual requests for the informants to bring him narcotics. As the requests continued, Pierce allegedly provided placebo pain pills and real narcotics to CW1 and CW2. Pierce exchanged those pills and drugs for cash and various narcotics brought to him by the CWs, including oxycodone, heroin and drugs that treat opiate addition, according to the complaint, which goes on to state that Pierce on several occasions provided CW1 with methamphetamine that was still in police evidence bags. The complaint alleges that CW1 obtained prescriptions for pain pills from her doctor and from emergency rooms to give to Pierce, and that Pierce would provide her with money to purchase the prescriptions.

The complaint alleges that Pierce used his position as a police officer to influence CW2’s probation officer to perform little or no supervision of CW2 and informed CW2 that he could “work off” his heroin possession charge by cooperating with Pierce. The complaint goes on to allege that Pierce informed the CWs about ongoing police investigations, including where best to purchase narcotics and which drug houses to stay away from, so that they would not be caught purchasing drugs.

Pierce allegedly had the CWs set up a meeting with a drug dealer, and, following the meeting, Pierce pulled over the dealer’s vehicle over at gunpoint, seized morphine pills and let the dealer go without making an arrest.

When the CWs advised Pierce that the drug dealers to whom they had sold the placebo pills realized they had received a deceptive product and wanted revenge, Pierce asked for their identities and indicated he would “take care of it.”

Last month, CW2 began cooperating with a federal investigation and recorded multiple conversations with Pierce. During those recorded conversations, Pierce allegedly instructed CW2 to sell placebo pills to a drug dealer for $11,000, money that was to be split between Pierce and CW2. On multiple occasions, Pierce asked CW2 for Suboxone, which is used treat opiate addictions, indicating that he was personally using the drug, according to the complaint affidavit.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Pierce will have an initial appearance before a United States Magistrate Judge later this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

If convicted of the bribery charge alleged in the criminal complaint, Pierce would face a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. 

This ongoing investigation was conducted by the FBI with the assistance of the San Luis Obispo Police Department and the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department.

Release No. 13-020

Updated June 22, 2015