Two Bakersfield Cops Sell Meth, Compromise 123 Cases
October 31, 2016 (Fault Lines) — Even if one is to assume there is a bright line distinction between “good” and “bad” guys, the cases of Damacio Diaz and Patrick Mara show how those who are supposedly on the good side of the law can go astray and end up sitting at defense counsel’s table. In a case involving the feds doing some local clean up in southern California, Diaz and Mara have pled guilty to supplementing their incomes by ripping off drug dealers and selling dope. The LA Times reports:
Acting U.S. Atty. Phillip A. Talbert said the two detectives were specially selected for a joint drug task force in a region plagued by methamphetamine.
“They became the drug traffickers themselves,” he said. “Their actions risked their fellow officers’ safety for greed.”
Mara said that when he partnered up with Diaz in spring 2012, Diaz walked out of a bedroom and handed him “a few hundred dollars, while he stuck a large amount of money into his own pockets,” according to court papers.
Soon Diaz and Mara were getting into other illegal activities, authorities said. Federal prosecutors in court sentencing documents said Mara had two patrol officers stop a vehicle the detectives knew was carrying 5 pounds of methamphetamine. They pocketed 4 pounds and turned in just a pound as evidence, officials said. This behavior became common, prosecutors said.
Diaz’s loyalty to Magallanes would be his downfall. The detective tipped him off about a Drug Enforcement Administration wiretap that captured him chatting, advising him “to lay low,” according to documents. Magallanes then told another drug dealer to dump his phone.
One obvious result of these two cops’ guilty pleas is that every case they touched (128 by the last count) while engaging in that meth tomfoolery gets revisited and may end up dismissed. At the very least, defense lawyers who have Diaz’s and Mara’s name in their clients’ discovery packet from the state get some serious ammunition to get those cases tossed out.
At best, the prosecutor will dismiss those cases. At worst for the defense, CDLs get to cross examine these two and get them to admit they were ripping off drug dealers while they investigated their clients’ cases. A nice intro question during cross may be: “Isn’t it true that the U.S. Marshals service had to bring you here today?”
Whoever subscribes to the good guys v. bad guys mantra can definitely be upset about how many “bad” guys may walk because of these two: at least 123 defense attorneys should be getting Brady letters disclosing the sordid stuff Diaz and Mara did while making cases against their clients. Mr. Nietzsche was unto something after all when he spoke about fighting monsters.
In the trenches, these two are as tainted as can be when it comes to witnesses. Both will be heading to Club Fed to serve five year sentences. According to the article, Diaz and Mara were drinking heavily while they dealt dope, which means they may be participating in the Bureau of Prison’s Residential Drug Abuse Program, or RDAP. The RDAP is where BOP inmates can go to either get clean or get almost unlimited access to dope. Hell, you can’t blame dealers for following Sutton’s Law when it comes to choosing a place to sell their product.
So long as the BOP determines that they didn’t plea to a “violent” offense (Diaz pled out to bribery, drug trafficking and tax evasion, while Mara admitted to selling methamphetamine), they’ll be able to shave up to 1 year off their sentences. And Diaz has been cooperating with the feds, so that means that he’ll probably get a reduction of at least 30 percent of his sentence once the federal prosecutor files a Rule 35 motion, should the government be content with his cooperation. Hence his lawyer’s statement to the papers:
Diaz would quickly implicate Mara and then suggest others were making money too.
“He gave them information to clean up the department,” said his lawyer, David Torres, in an interview. But U.S. Atty. Talbert said that “we concluded no officers were complicit in joining Diaz and Mara,” and that no further prosecutions were planned at this time.
During the investigation, five other officers were placed on administrative leave related to the investigation and one recently resigned.
But Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson said the federal and internal inquiries after 18 months cleared them all.
Many are surprised when they learn that snitching federally doesn’t give one a complete pass on prison, as the vast majority of stoolies end up doing some kind of time. Snitching has many hazards, and one of them is that the government has to be satisfied with his performance on and off the stand, while the witness will be a guest of the BOP nonetheless. A cooperating witness like Diaz who hasn’t done some time can be a liability on the stand for the government, since it may appear that he got too good of a deal from the government and is thus extra inclined to make the government happy.
This applies even to someone like Diaz who was hitherto squeaky clean. He was a member of the cross-country team that was the subject of that insufferable Kevin Costner celluloid McFarland, USA. That’s one fall from grace indeed.