As Homeland Security investigators continue their probe of an international drug smuggling scheme operated out of the office of the San Jose police union, the union announced April 7 that it will conduct its own independent “no-holds-barred” investigation.
The San Jose Police Officers Association stated that it had fired its former executive director, Joanne Segovia, and will hire “an independent outside investigator to conduct a comprehensive internal investigation.”
One day after the union announcement, San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata said on Twitter there would be no internal departmental investigation of possible police officer involvement in illegal activities at the 1,100-member union, while stating that his department was ready to fully cooperate with federal authorities, if asked.
Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen also will not be looking at any actions by the police union, according to a spokesperson, who called it “an ongoing federal case.”
The statements by the police union and the police chief followed demands from some community leaders for an independent investigation into the activities of the police union.
In its April 7 statement, the police union said its investigation will examine “to what extent [Segovia] utilized POA resources and to also investigate POA operations to determine if current internal controls could have identified the alleged behavior.”
Charges against Segovia of smuggling fentanyl in the U.S. from Asian suppliers were announced March 29 by the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Justice Department. The criminal complaint said that over an eight-year period, the 64-year-old San Jose resident bought and distributed illegal opioids from her home and office computers, sometimes even using the police union’s UPS address.
When the charges against Segovia were first revealed, union president Sean Pritchard, a 28-year San Jose police officer, said he had been assured by federal investigators that Segovia had acted alone and, based on that, was confident no other civilian employees or police officers were involved.
The union also attempted to minimize Segovia’s role as “ simply an officer manager,” although the 20-year employee oversaw a $2.3 million budget and was paid an annual salary of $161,360, according to 2020 tax filings. She reported to the union board of directors, all of them current San Jose police officers.
In addition to managing membership issues, Segovia handled millions of dollars in deposits to multiple police union political action committees that acted as major power brokers in local politics.
The union has closed off most pages on its website to the public, limiting them to members only.
Police Chief Mata explained his inaction by saying he “has not received any request from federal investigators to help in the investigation of actions by the executive director of the Police Officers Association.”
He also said he had not received any information that any employee of the city was suspected of any wrongdoing.
“As chief of police, the most important thing to me is that members of this community have the highest trust and confidence in the San Jose Police Department. I have never turned away from outside scrutiny of our actions, and I have dealt with instances of misconduct by our own employees firmly and decisively,” Mata said in a statement.
“We have not been asked for assistance but are prepared to assist as needed in their examination of this matter, and to bring those who should be held accountable to justice,” Mata stated. “To be clear, I have not received information that any employee, sworn or professional staff, of the San Jose Police Department is suspected of wrongdoing in connection with this investigation.
“I share the concerns of our community to see this matter fully investigated. I expect that the investigation by the Department of Homeland Security will be thorough, comprehensive, and will provide the community with the information it deserves. I will do everything in my authority to provide that confidence to our community.”
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