A nephew of Fresno’s former deputy police chief Keith Foster has pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to distribute and/or possess with intent to distribute marijuana.
Denny Foster’s plea agreement says he and his uncle purchased marijuana with the intent to sell it and make money.
“Keith Foster paid defendant to acquire and distribute marijuana on Keith Foster’s behalf,” the agreement says. Denny Foster used “Keith Foster’s money to purchase marijuana, sell it, and provide the profit from the drug sales to Keith Foster.”
Under the plea agreement, Denny Foster faces up to 57 months, or nearly five years, in prison when he is sentenced in U.S. District Court on July 10. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dismissed 10 other felony charges against him.
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Keith Foster paid defendant to acquire and distribute marijuana on Keith Foster’s behalf.
Denny Foster’s plea agreement
Judge Anthony Ishii has the authority to reject Foster’s plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. But if Ishii accepts the plea deal, Foster will waive his right to appeal and contest his sentence, the plea agreement says.
Until the July 10 hearing, Ishii has allowed the defendant to remain out of custody on pretrial release conditions.
A federal indictment unsealed in April 2015 charged Keith Foster, the former No. 2 man behind Police Chief Jerry Dyer, with participating in three separate conspiracies to distribute different controlled substances.
In a criminal complaint, Keith Foster is charged with conspiring with co-defendant Randy Flowers to distribute oxycodone, a prescription painkiller that is addictive. He also is charged along with Rafael Guzman Jr. with conspiring to distribute heroin. In a third alleged conspiracy, Keith Foster is charged with conspiring with Ricky Reynolds, Jennifer Donabedian, Sarah Ybarra and Denny Foster to distribute marijuana. Flowers also is Keith Foster’s nephew.
Last month, Donabedian, who is Denny Foster’s girlfriend, was sentenced to a year of probation and 100 hours of community service for her role in the criminal enterprise. In September, Donabedian pleaded guilty to a felony charge that says she knew Denny Foster was a major marijuana dealer, assisted in his illegal operation, and failed to tell authorities about it.
Denny Foster’s plea deal, which he signed in October and made public this month, says he conspired with at least one other person with the intent to distribute 129.9 kilograms of marijuana, which is about 286 pounds. He also “maintained a premise for the purpose of manufacturing or distributing” the controlled substance, the agreement says.
During a search of his home in March 2015, officers seized several pounds of marijuana, a money counter, scales and about $4,000 in cash.
Under the plea agreement, Denny Foster faces up to 57 months, or nearly five years, in prison when he is sentenced in U.S. District Court on July 10.
According to the agreement:
Denny Foster said marijuana sales was his primary source of income and that he purchased his pot from Reynolds, who lives in Shasta County. Denny Foster “regularly drove to Shasta County, purchased pound quantities of marijuana from Reynolds, and transported the marijuana, which he concealed in a cooler, to Fresno, California,” the agreement says.
Denny Foster then distributed the marijuana in Fresno and Albuquerque, N.M.
Beginning around July 14, 2014, and ending in March 26, 2015, federal investigators used wiretaps to intercept multiple telephone calls and text messages between Denny Foster and Reynolds in which they discussed “the sales and distribution of marijuana, the increased risk in engaging in out-of-state distribution through the use of the United States Postal Service or other common carrier, and a price increase to justify the risk,” the agreement says.
During this time, the plea agreement says, Keith Foster also would call his nephew, asking him if he could get “some units” for his “boy.” A unit is code for pounds of marijuana, the agreement says.
Denny Foster told his uncle he could get the marijuana and told his uncle to deposit the money in Denny Foster’s bank account. But Keith Foster didn’t like the arrangement, the plea agreement says.
“I don’t like dealing with banks,” Keith Foster said, according to the plea agreement.
In one telephone call in December 2014, Foster asked his nephew to cut him in on the profits from marijuana sales “made on behalf of Keith Foster.”
Keith Foster, Randy Flowers and Ricky Reynolds have pleaded not guilty to drug-trafficking charges. They will be tried in U.S. District Court in Fresno in May.
Keith Foster resigned after his arrest on drug-trafficking charges. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and rejected a plea offer that would send him to prison. His trial is scheduled to begin in May.
In November 2015, Ybarra was sentenced to a year in prison for mailing marijuana through a package-delivery company. Guzman was sentenced in October to 40 months in prison. In Guzman’s plea agreement in May 2016, he pleaded guilty to conspiring with Keith Foster to sell heroin. His agreement says Guzman agreed with federal prosecutors that on Dec. 24, 2014, Keith Foster contacted him “to acquire heroin on behalf of a third party.” Guzman then asked Foster what quality of heroin he wanted to purchase.
“The very best,” Foster said, according to Guzman’s plea agreement.
Randy Flowers and Ricky Reynolds also have denied taking part in any drug dealing and have pleaded not guilty to the charges. They will be tried with Keith Foster in May.