Former Deputy Police Chief Found Guilty of Conspiring to Distribute Heroin and Marijuana
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal jury in Fresno today found former Fresno deputy police chief Keith Foster, 53, guilty of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
U.S. Attorney Talbert stated: “When a police officer misuses his official position to commit crimes for personal profit, it is the ultimate betrayal of public trust. The betrayal is only compounded when the officer involved is in a leadership position in the police department. By conspiring with others to traffic heroin and marijuana, Keith Foster not only disgraced the office he held, he put the community he was sworn to protect in danger. Although the jury was not able to reach verdicts on the additional counts relating to Foster’s alleged involvement in trafficking oxycodone, we are grateful for their hard work and the guilty verdicts they returned. My office is committed to rooting out corruption and prosecuting those who use their official position to commit crimes that endanger the community. We are proud to have worked alongside the ATF and FBI, with the full cooperation of the Fresno Police Department, in bringing Foster to justice.”
“The actions of Keith Foster and his co-defendants in this case jeopardized public safety and violated the trust of the citizens of Fresno he swore to protect,” said Special Agent in Charge Jill A. Snyder, San Francisco Field Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “During this investigation, ATF and FBI agents followed evidence of a drug trafficking conspiracy. That evidence led directly to the former deputy police chief of Fresno. Foster’s criminal activity will not deter ATF’s ongoing partnership with the Fresno Police Department to fight violent crime in the City of Fresno.”
“The FBI will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners, investigating any allegation of criminal activity within the law enforcement community. The community must be served by those who obey the laws they are sworn to uphold and fulfill the oath of office,” said Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the FBI’s Sacramento field office. “Public trust is essential to the success of the work that men and women in law enforcement do daily. Foster’s illegal acts have negatively impacted public perception of the men and women of the Fresno Police Department who proudly put their lives on the line every day to serve the Fresno community.”
According to evidence presented at trial, between July 19, 2014, and March 26, 2015, Keith Foster conspired with his nephew Iran Dennis “Denny” Foster, 46, of Fresno, to obtain marijuana from Ricky Reynolds, 50, of Shasta Lake. Denny Foster regularly traveled to Reynolds’ residence to purchase marijuana. On one of these trips, Denny Foster was stopped by the California Highway Patrol in Merced County and arrested for possessing six pounds of marijuana in the trunk of his car. When he was arrested, his passenger called Keith Foster and Foster said that he “could have provided cover” for Denny Foster if he had known about the trip ahead of time. He also said he would call his “narc guys.”
Also according to evidence presented at trial, between December 23, 2014, and February 2, 2015, Foster conspired with co-defendant Rafael Guzman, 43, of Fresno, to obtain heroin for another person.
Keith Foster resigned from his position on April 3, 2015, one week after his arrest.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Melanie L. Alsworth and Dawrence W. Rice Jr. are prosecuting the case.
Six others pleaded guilty before trial to various offenses related to the drug trafficking conspiracy. Randy Flowers and Denny Foster are scheduled to be sentenced on July 10, 2017. Ricky Reynolds is scheduled to be sentenced on September 11, 2017. On October 11, 2016, Rafael Guzman, 43, of Fresno was sentenced to three years and four months in prison. Jennifer Donabedian, 37, of Fresno, pleaded guilty to concealing a felony and served 12 months’ probation. Sarah Ybarra, 39, of Fresno, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and served one year in prison.
Keith Foster is scheduled to be sentenced on October 10, 2017, by U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii. Foster faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the count relating to heroin, and a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the marijuana trafficking offense. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.