Former SFPD Sergeant Convicted of Corruption Beings Sentence at Colorado Prison Camp

A former San Francisco police sergeant who was convicted of corruption surrendered to a federal prison camp in Colorado today to begin serving his sentence of three years and five months in custody.

Former Sgt. Ian Furminger, 47, of Pleasant Hill, reported to the prison camp in Florence, Colo., at 9:30 a.m., according to Mark Goldrosen, Furminger’s attorney in the former sergeant’s appeal of his conviction.

Furminger was convicted by a federal jury in San Francisco in December of four felony charges related to the theft of money and property seized from drug suspects during searches in 2009.

The convictions were conspiracy to violate civil rights, two counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to steal from a federally funded program, namely, the police department.

Furminger was originally due to surrender to begin serving his sentence on April 3, but that date was postponed while he appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for release on bail during his appeal of his conviction.

Furminger appealed to the circuit court after U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, the trial judge in the case, declined on March 16 to grant bail.

On April 15, the appeals court turned down Furminger’s request for bail. Two judges of that court said in a one-page ruling that Furminger thus far had not shown “a substantial question of law or fact” that would be likely to result in a reversal of his conviction or an order for a new trial.

Furminger’s lawyers then obtained Breyer’s approval for the new surrender date.

In addition to the corruption scandal, Furminger’s case brought to light a related scandal concerning racist and homophobic text messages exchanged by Furminger and other officers on their personal cell phones.

Police Chief Greg Suhr is now seeking the firing by the Police Commission of seven officers who allegedly sent racist messages.

The messages were revealed in a brief filed by federal prosecutors on March 13 to oppose Furminger’s request to Breyer for bail. Prosecutors gave examples of messages sent to or from Furminger and argued that the texts were one of several reasons why Furminger should not be released during his appeal.

Another former officer convicted in the same trial, Edmond Robles, 47, of Danville, was originally due to surrender on Friday to begin serving his sentence of three years and three months.

But one of Robles’ attorneys, William Genego, said he filed an appeal for bail with the 9th Circuit on Wednesday. The action, which followed Breyer’s denial of bail for Robles on Monday, automatically postpones Robles’s surrender until the court rules.

Both Furminger and Robles resigned from the police force after being convicted.

A third former officer, Reynaldo Vargas, 46, of Palm Desert, pleaded guilty to four counts shortly before the trial and testified against his former colleagues.

He was previously scheduled to be sentenced by Breyer on May 6. But prosecution and defense attorneys have jointly asked the judge for a postponement until May 20, citing “delays in and unexpected proceedings related to co-defendants Furminger and Robles” that hindered their ability to analyze sentencing factors for Vargas.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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