Federal prosecutors allege two former Rohnert Park police officers seized money and drugs they kept for themselves in a 18 month spree ending in 2018.
This week's 18-page indictment accuses former Rohnert Park Sergeant Brendan Jacy Tatum and officer Joseph Huffaker of using their law enforcement knowledge and training to threaten, extort and steal from motorists.
In some cases while claiming to be agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, which is why the FBI is involved in prosecuting the case.
According to another criminal complaint filed in March, after the department's drug interdiction unit was disbanded, Tatum and Huffaker began making rogue traffic stops, often far from Rohnert Park and without body worn cameras. Cash and drugs extorted from drivers on threat of arrest was never logged or turned over to the police department. Drivers were not issued citations, or given receipts for the seized property. Prosecutors allege at least some of the intercepted drivers were delivering legally grown cannabis to labs for testing.
The two face charges several charges, like extortion under color of official right and tax evasion. Federal prosecutors also allege that Tatum, with an annual salary over $85,000, deposited nearly 400,000 into his own bank account, or accounts of family members. Deposits were in increments under 10,000, avoiding federal reporting requirements. Prosecutors allege Tatum used $47,000 in cash seized from drivers to buy a fishing boat.
A spokesman for the US attorney's office in San Francisco says he can't make out-of-court statements just yet.
"The city of Rohnert Park will not tolerate corrupt and unethical practices within the rank of its employees, particularly sworn peace officers," said Rohnert Park Assistant City Manager Don Schwartz. "The city has fully cooperated in the investigation by the United State's Attorney's office and FBI into a now defunct interdiction program."
Schwartz said the city is not currently conducting a wider investigation into how this could happen.
Tatum and Huffaker face a maximum three quarters of a million dollars in fines and 60 years in prison if ordered to serve sentences consecutively.