photo credit: Brendon Tatum (left) is a former Rohnert Park police sergeant.

The former Rohnert Park police officer facing federal charges for shaking down motorists on Highway 101 pleaded guilty in a San Francisco courtroom Thursday. Brendon Jacy Tatum admitted to charges of extortion, tax evasion and falsifying police reports. 

“Mr. Tatum came to the conclusion that he had made some really huge and awful mistakes for himself, and for his family, and for the city he worked for,” Stuart Hanlon, Tatum’s attorney, told KRCB Thursday afternoon. “[Tatum] did not want to keep on trying to fight it. He wanted to come to terms with what he'd done. He is guilty. And he reached the determination the best way to deal with this was to accept responsibility.

In September, Tatum and his former partner were indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly taking cannabis and money from motorists they pulled over in Sonoma and Mendocino counties in 2016 and 2017. Neither man is in custody. 

According to the US Attorney’s Office, in February 2018, “the press began reporting on robberies along Highway 101 by purported law enforcement agents, and specifically the robbery that took place on December 5, 2017.  These reports indicated that the victims had been interviewed by the FBI.  The criminal complaint alleges that Tatum responded by drafting a press release claiming RPDPS was responsible for the December 5, 2017 stop, and then prepared a false police report to conceal his criminal activity.” 

Hanlon said now that Tatum has pleaded guilty to all charges, nothing more happens in his case until he is sentenced next March. That sentence could be as much as 20 years, said Hanlon. 

“He will go to prison,” Hanlon said. “And the question is… federal sentencing is dependent on something called the guidelines, which are certain rules and regulations that affect all federal sentencing to try to get conformity throughout the country. But it's always up to the judge. I think he could get as much in five or six years…or he could get a lot less.”

Another former Rohnert Park police officer charged in the case, Joseph Huffaker, is denying the charges against him and will likely face a trial. Asked if his client will testify against his former alleged partner in crime, Hanlon said that’s not in current plans. 

“No, he pled to his own activity. And he is going to deal with his situation,” Hanlon said. 

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