A federal grand jury indicted five San Francisco police officers and one former police officer on charges that include stealing computers and other property from suspects, performing illegal searches in residential hotels, extortion, and dealing drugs. Thursday’s indictment alleges that police officers Raul Eric Elias, 44, of San Mateo; Richard Yick, 37, of San Francisco; and Arshad Razzak, 41, of San Francisco have conspired to threaten, intimidate, oppress, and injure the occupants of the city’s residential hotels by entering rooms by using a master key without any legal justification to do so. The indictment further stated that Yick and Razzack falsified an informant’s payment slip and, in order to hide their illegal activities, falsified police reports. They face $1 million in fines and 52 years in prison.
The indictment also stated that Sergeant Ian Furminger, 47, of Pleasant Hill; Edmond Robles, 46, of Danville; and former police officer Reynolodo Vargas, 45, of Palm Desert perpetrated “multiple criminal conspiracies” that included seizing on behalf of the city and then stealing items from suspects such as drugs, money, gift cards, and other valuable items. Included in the indictment is a charge alleging that Furminger extorted property from an individual. They face $3.25 million in fines and 65 years in prison.
The individual histories of some of the officers in the indictment shows that this is not the first time they have been accused of wrongdoing. Officers Yick, Elias, and Razzak were sued in a federal civil rights case by one woman and two men in 2012 for wrongful arrest at the hotel located at 106 Sixth Street. The lawsuit was settled in 2014 for an undisclosed sum of money.
In 2005, three officers including Furminger were named in a lawsuit in which an individual alleged that when caught urinating in the street by the officers, the officers had forced him to kneel and mop up the urine using his hair. The suit states that two officers demanded that he use his hair to mop the urine while Furminger stood by. The suit was settled with the city paying the plaintiff $83,000, and Furminger was promoted to sergeant soon after.
Vargas was suspended in 2002 for six months when he was accused of using a broken crack pipe to injure a man’s face. He admitted to using excessive force, and the resulting lawsuit ended with a $60,000 settlement. In 2011, Vargas and several other officers brought on scrutiny from the FBI due to their behavior in a drug-related search videotaped by a surveillance camera at the Julian House Hotel. The video appeared to show Vargas leaving the search target’s room carrying a bag of the person’s possessions that were subsequently never checked into evidence. Vargas was eventually fired, and in November of 2013 he sued the police department for wrongful termination. The suit alleges that he was the only officer who had been terminated for the common practice of putting in for overtime while testifying during regular hours in court cases.
Police Chief Greg Sur declined to comment. A news conference has been scheduled for late Thursday morning at the Hall of Justice. The officers’ attorneys were not immediately available for comment.
By Donna Westlund