Former Fresno deputy police chief sentenced to 4 years in prison

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FRESNO, Calif. — U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii sentenced former Fresno deputy police chief Keith Foster, 53, today to four years in prison for drug trafficking activity with family and friends, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

Keith Foster resigned from his position on April 3, 2015, one week after his arrest. On May 23, 2017, a federal jury in Fresno found Foster guilty of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana. Co-defendant Ricky Reynolds was sentenced today to 24 months of probation and six months of home detention.

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.

“Earlier this year, a jury found Keith Foster guilty of violating the very laws he was sworn to enforce. By conspiring with others to distribute illegal drugs, Foster breached the trust that the community placed in him as deputy chief of the Fresno Police Department and invited the danger and violence associated with such activity into our neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney Talbert.

“Like other law enforcement officers we have convicted for similar crimes in this district, Foster abused his position of trust for his own financial gain,” U.S. Attorney Talbert continued. “Given that the abuse of methamphetamine, opioids, and other drugs causes such immense harm to our community, we will zealously prosecute those in such positions who put profit over duty. I am grateful for the hard work of the ATF and the FBI, together with the full cooperation of Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, in bringing Foster to justice. My office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute public corruption to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Our mission at ATF is to protect the public from violent criminals and criminal organizations,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brice McCracken, San Francisco Field Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “In the pursuit of our commitment to the public, ATF special agents, alongside our partners at the FBI, followed evidence of a drug trafficking conspiracy that was occurring within the community. That investigation led directly to the former Deputy Police Chief of Fresno Keith Foster. Keith Foster’s actions jeopardized public safety and violated the trust of the citizens of Fresno he swore to protect. Today he faces the consequences for breaking that trust. However, his actions are not indicative of the Fresno Police Department and they will not deter ATF’s partnership with the department.”

“The American people expect law enforcement officers to obey the laws they are sworn to uphold, protect the public, and to serve as role models for their communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “Keith Foster abused the power and reputation of his position as deputy chief by engaging in drug trafficking, a crime that invites violence into the community he swore to protect and serve. Public corruption is an important and top criminal priority for the FBI, and we are grateful to those who bring allegations of public corruption to our attention.”

Six others pleaded guilty before trial to various offenses related to the drug trafficking conspiracy. On July 10, 2017, Randy Flowers, 51, was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison, on August 14, 2017, Denny Foster, 46, was sentenced to a year and a half in prison. 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.