11 Richmond Officers Cleared in Sexual Misconduct Scandal - NBC Bay Area
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11 Richmond Officers Cleared in Sexual Misconduct Scandal

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    A woman known as Celeste Guap is at the heart of scandal involving East Bay police officers.

    A total of 11 Richmond police officers were investigated but cleared of criminal misconduct in the expansive sexual exploitation scandal that has led to criminal charges against seven officers from three departments and official discipline for 12 Oakland police officers.

    According to a report issued by Richmond police interim Chief Allwyn Brown, some of the 11 officers will face discipline ranging from termination to letters of reprimand and counseling, but Brown declined to disclose how many or who, citing the state's privacy laws for law enforcement officers.

    None of the misconduct was found to be criminal, Brown said.

    "We found no conspiracies. The facts show individual, unconnected, non-criminal engagements and other activities that violate multiple department policies and the professional code of ethics on the part of several RPD officers," Brown wrote.

    While none of the officers were named, city officials previously have disclosed that Officer Jerrod Tong was placed on leave in connection with the investigation and Lt. Andre Hill, a department spokesman, was reassigned from roles where he interacted with youth.

    Brown also addressed reports that Richmond police had arranged last month to send the key witness in the case, a 19-year-old victim of sex trafficking who goes by the moniker Celeste Guap, to an in-patient drug rehabilitation facility in Florida where she was subsequently arrested for alleged battery on a guard. Guap remains in a Florida jail on $300,000 bail.

    The trip to Florida has delayed Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley from filing criminal charges against seven law enforcement officers since she expects Guap to testify against them.

    The five current and former Oakland police officers, Livermore police officer and Contra Costa County sheriff's deputy are facing charges ranging from oral copulation with a minor to criminal access to law enforcement databases.

    Brown said that Richmond police assisted Guap in getting funding from the California Victim Compensation Program in connection with an unrelated crime for medical treatment for addiction. The city of Richmond provided no funds for rehab, he said.

    "Representations that we 'sent' this teenage witness away or had her 'removed' to Florida distort reality," Brown wrote.

    The widespread investigation started in September 2015 when Oakland police Officer Brendan O'Brien killed himself, leaving a suicide note that implicated other officers in connection with Guap. Despite that, Brown said he didn't learn of possible involvement with Richmond police officers until this May, when the scandal was first publicly disclosed in news reports.

    The department substantiated connections between her and Richmond officers in the first week of June and eventually 11 Richmond police officers were under investigation.

    O'Malley said in announcing pending prosecutions against seven officers last week that she would not be charging any additional officers but said it was possible there would be additional criminal charges filed in either San Francisco or Contra Costa County.

    Former Contra Costa County sheriff's Deputy Ricardo Perez, who resigned as details of the scandal emerged, and Oakland police Officer Giovanni LoVerde are each facing charges of felony oral copulation with a minor. If convicted, they could face 16 months to three years in state prison.

    Perez will also be charged with two counts of engaging in a lewd act in a public place.

    Former Livermore police Officer Dan Black, who resigned last week, will be charged with two counts of engaging in an act of prostitution and two counts of lewd acts in public.

    Oakland police Officer Brian Bunton faces one count of felony conspiracy to obstruct justice, which carries a possible sentence of a year in prison, and one misdemeanor charge of engaging in an act of prostitution.

    Retired Oakland police Officer Leroy Johnson will be charged with one count of failing to report sexual misconduct concerning a minor.

    Oakland police Officer Warit Utappa will be accused of searching official criminal justice data and computer systems for an unauthorized purpose.

    Former Oakland police Officer Tyrell Smith, who resigned in May, faces four counts of the same crime.

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