Comments Off on Second former Bakersfield police Detective, Patrick Mara, 44, facing charges, including large-scale distribution of Methamphetamine

Even as thousands of Kern County residents took a day off from work Monday, former Bakersfield police Detective Patrick Mara was with his family facing down one of the most difficult decisions of his life.

On Friday, The Californian named the 13-year veteran of the Bakersfield Police tt98eg8we=tw=Department as the one-time partner of former BPD Detective Damacio Diaz, who in a plea agreement made public last week, admitted to a litany of crimes while he was working as a cop, including taking bribes, large-scale distribution of methamphetamine, working in partnership with a known drug dealer, stealing evidence and providing police intelligence to criminal partners.

In an exclusive interview Monday, Mara’s attorney Fred Gagliardini confirmed what The Californian had already reported, and more: that Mara was Diaz’s police partner, that Mara left the department in mid-May on disability leave and that the 36-year-old ex-cop had 24 hours on Monday and Tuesday to make a decision about whether to accept a proposed plea agreement offered by the Feds or take his chances with an indictment that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.

“If Patrick decides to accept the plea as stated, I’ll be able to discuss it tomorrow,” Gagliardini said Monday. “But until he has made that decision, I don’t think it’s fair to talk about it.”

Mara and his attorney are set to hold a news conference at noon Tuesday near the Liberty Bell in downtown Bakersfield to announce Mara’s decision. Gagliardini said he also wants to express some concerns he has about statements made last week by David Torres, the attorney representing Diaz.

The plea agreement, a copy of which remained under wraps in Gagliardini’s folder, includes just one felony count against Mara, albeit a serious one, Gagliardini said. If Mara says no to the deal, he will likely be hit with a multiple-count indictment.

Mara’s attorney did not mince words. He has advised his client to take the deal.

“If he says no, they will indict him,” the attorney said of his client. “It could be for many more counts, I don’t know.”

“A plea is always up to the client,” Gagliardini added. “My advice is he accepts the plea. But again, he hasn’t made a final decision yet.”

Gagliardini said Mara and his previous attorney had earlier taken a harder line against cooperating with federal investigators. Then in mid-February, Mara called Gagliardini for a second legal opinion, and on Feb. 16, retained his legal services.

“He has not been indicted, yet we’ve been open and honest with law enforcement since the middle of February,” Gagliardini said.

But even for cooperating witnesses, the federal system is littered with pitfalls. And that, Gagliardini said, places a lot more emotional and psychological weight on lawyer and client.

“The federal system is drastically different from the state system when it comes to providing information that might reduce your sentence,” the attorney said. Even after proffering information, there’s no guarantee the U.S. Attorney’s office will agree to ask for consideration in the form of a shorter sentence.

And even if federal officials ask the court for lenience, the court is under no obligation to accept the recommendations made by federal prosecutors.

“You’re going in and saying, ‘I trust that by doing the right thing, after making a bad decision, somehow, eventually, you might help me,’” Gagliardini said.

Mara joined the BPD in January 2003. He worked patrol for the first two and a half years of his career, before joining the force’s gang unit in 2005. In 2008 he went back to patrol until 2011 when he was assigned to the BPD’s narcotics task force. He was promoted to detective in 2013.

Diaz’s statements in his plea agreement appear to be detrimental to Mara’s case.

The 44-year-old, whose history as a high school cross country athlete was highlighted in the film “McFarland, USA,” had been on paid administrative leave for a year before resigning from the department on Feb. 24 of this year.

The 17-year veteran admitted to seizing some 10 pounds of meth as evidence in September 2012 and returning approximately one pound of it to the department.

According to the plea deal filed in federal court, “Diaz admits that he and his partner unlawfully converted approximately nine pounds of actual methamphetamine to their sole possession, which they later sold for profit.”

If true, it would appear to be damning to each of the former partners.

The maximum sentence for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine is life imprisonment.

Torres, Diaz’s attorney, ignited a firestorm last week when he told The Californian that several additional officers in the department were under investigation.

Diaz is painfully aware that he has betrayed the public trust, Torres said. But by helping the FBI, DEA and other agencies he hopes he can help uncover past corruption within the BPD, and especially the narcotics unit.

Gagliardini said he was distressed by Torres’ comments. Besides Diaz and Mara, five other officers were investigated and cleared of federal charges, Bakersfield police Chief Greg Williamson said last week.

While Torres has called for a state attorney general’s investigation of the five, it appears they may only face an internal BPD investigation, the results of which will likely never be made public.

Gagliardini said that while the department has its problems, he does not believe rampant corruption is one of them. And he’s skeptical that Diaz’s motivations are anything other than self-serving.

He also theorizes that Diaz was head of a “hub conspiracy,” in which a main player — like the hub of a wheel — engages in multiple conspiracies with multiple people who may not be aware of the involvement of the others.

But at this point, Gagliardini is mostly concerned for his client, a South High graduate with a wife and young children at home.

And a weighty decision that awaits.

 

 

 

 

http://www.bakersfield.com/news/2016/05/30/second-former-bpd-detective-facing-charges-choices.html

 

Second former BPD detective accepts plea deal with U.S. Attorney’s office

An attorney for a former Bakersfield Police Department detective confirmed Tuesday his client has accepted a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office in connection with wrongdoing while also criticizing remarks made by another attorney last week alleging widespread corruption in the department.

Attorney Fred Gagliardini, representing former Detective Patrick Mara, said during a brief press conference held outside Kern County Superior Court that he believes law enforcement officers, by and large, are efficient and capable, performing their jobs while abiding by the law they are charged with enforcing.

“Unfortunately, in every profession people are going to make mistakes,” he said.

Mara, 36, made mistakes that could impact the rest of his life. The attorney, while not naming the count Mara will be pleading to, said it carries the possibility of life imprisonment.

The detective cleared his throat and, in a soft voice, apologized to the city of Bakersfield, its residents and his fellow officers. He said he “tarnished the badge” and was ashamed of his actions.

Mara said four years ago he put himself in a compromising situation that has led him to today’s plea agreement.

Mara’s former partner, former BPD Detective Damacio Diaz, admitted last week to committing a number of crimes while working as a cop, including taking bribes, large-scale distribution of methamphetamine, working in partnership with a known drug dealer, stealing evidence and providing police intelligence to criminal partners.

Diaz, 44, admitted to seizing some 10 pounds of meth as evidence in September 2012 and returning approximately one pound of it to the department.

According to the plea deal filed in federal court, “Diaz admits that he and his partner unlawfully converted approximately nine pounds of actual methamphetamine to their sole possession, which they later sold for profit.”

Last week, David A. Torres, the attorney representing Diaz, said several additional officers in the department were under investigation and “the corruption will read like a fiction novel.”

BPD Chief Greg Williamson acknowledged Diaz’s actions have hurt the department, but denied there was widespread corruption. Five additional officers were under federal investigation, but have been cleared, he said.

Those officers are now being investigated by the BPD to determine if they violated any department policies, the chief said.

Gagliardini said Tuesday he agrees “100 percent” with Williamson’s comments. He said that during his meetings with the U.S. Attorneys’ office and others in connection with this case he never heard allegations of rampant corruption within the BPD.

Instead, Gagliardini said, he heard of specific accounts involving “less than a handful” of officers, some of whom were merely present but unaware of any wrongdoing going on.

Mara joined the BPD in January 2003. He worked patrol for the first 2 1/2 years of his career, before joining the force’s gang unit in 2005. In 2008 he went back to patrol until 2011 when he was assigned to the BPD’s narcotics task force. He was promoted to detective in 2013.

 

 

 

http://www.bakersfield.com/news/breaking-news/2016/05/31/second-former-bpd-detective-accepts-plea-deal-with-u-s-attorney-s-office.html

 

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