Pubdate: Tue, 08 Aug 2017
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2017 Los Angeles Times
Author: Veronica Rocha



Two former Kern County Sheriff's deputies avoided prison time Monday
for stealing and selling marijuana that was seized during drug busts.

Logan August and Derrick Penney were sentenced Monday to three years'
probation for the charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with
the intent to distribute marijuana, according to the U.S. attorney
office in Fresno.

August, a 30-year-old Bakersfield resident, was also ordered to serve
1,500 hours of community service and forfeit $16,500 earned in the
trafficking operation, federal authorities said.

Penney, a 34-year-old Star, Idaho, resident, must serve 250 hours in
community service and surrender $1,200, federal authorities said.

The former deputies were facing up to five years in prison for the

"The defendants in this case caused a significant breach of the
public's trust when they committed these crimes," U.S. Atty. Phillip
A. Talbert said in a statement. "Not only did they betray the
community they were sworn to serve, but also their fellow,
hard-working officers who protect the Kern County community every day."

The former deputies were accused of working with former Bakersfield
police detective Patrick Mara and others to steal marijuana from the
Kern County Sheriff's Office storage unit, according federal court
documents. The plot transpired between June 2014 and October 2014,
according to the documents.

Federal authorities said the group planned to sell the cannabis, which
had been previously seized by police during drug operations on private
and public properties.

August was assigned to the sheriff's Major Vendor Narcotics Unit and
participated in drug busts. Penney was member of the sheriff's Gang
Suppression Section-Investigations Unit.

Both deputies had department-issued access cards, which they used to
enter the storage unit, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Once
inside, they tossed the marijuana plants and buds into trash bags,
federal authorities said. After stealing the marijuana from the
storage unit, they had it trimmed, so it could be sold.

August then handed the eight pounds of marijuana to a confidential
informant who sold it for him, federal authorities said.

August shared his earnings with Penney, each receiving about $1,200,
according to federal prosecutors. August also gave a portion of the
proceeds to Mara, who is about to begin a five-year federal prison
sentence in a separate case, authorities said. Mara, a 13-year
Bakersfield police veteran, admitted to stealing methamphetamine from
drug dealers during traffic stops.

Federal authorities said August took the marijuana from drug busts on
10 separate occasions and gave his informant about 25 pounds of
cannabis. After the marijuana was sold, he received thousands of
dollars, according to federal prosecutors.

In February 2016, the deputies voluntarily visited FBI offices in
Bakersfield and confessed to stealing the marijuana, according to
federal court documents.

They pleaded guilty in May for their roles in the trafficking

That same month, August recorded a video message entitled "I am
sorry!" during which he apologized to Kern County residents, law
enforcement officials and "anybody I had ever worked with that wears
the badge that I disgraced."

Seated with his wife, August talked directly to the camera during the
nearly 7-minute YouTube video, saying Satan was "playing games" with

"I made a horrible decision," he said. "It was nobody else's fault.
Nobody influenced me to do it. I made that decision based on Satan
playing games with me and making me feel like I was prideful and
unable to go to family members for help."

Before Monday's sentencing, August's close friends, relatives and
former coworkers submitted letters to the court, pleading for leniency
in the sentencing process.

In one letter, Kern County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Wonderly described
working closely with August and Penney on SWAT and narcotics teams.

"I do not judge people by mistakes they have made. I have never lived
that way and I was never trained that way," Wonderly wrote. "Mistakes
by Logan and Derrick do not define them and will never compare to the
amazing achievements they have accomplished in their lives."
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