One of Keith Foster’s nephews was sentenced Monday to 33 months in federal prison on gun charges in connection with a drug-trafficking probe that cost Foster his job as deputy chief with the Fresno Police Department.
In April, Randy Flowers, 51, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to being a felon in possession of four firearms that federal agents discovered in his southwest Fresno home in March 2015.
On Monday, Fresno defense attorney Yan Shrayberman sought a sentence of 15-to-20 months in prison for Flowers, arguing that Flowers’ prior convictions were more than 20 years old. Shrayberman also said Flowers had a steady job and a stable lifestyle.
But Judge Anthony Ishii sentenced Flowers to 33 months in prison after noting that federal agents discovered the firearms with about 20 pounds of marijuana that was packaged in various amounts. Agents also found dozens of oxycodone and Vicodin pills, marijuana plants, several scales and cell phones, and $10,200 in cash, the judge said.
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In announcing the punishment, Ishii said Flowers could remain free until he surrenders to federal authorities on Aug. 28.
Justice has been served.
Randy Flowers told reporters
Outside court, an upbeat Flowers waved to reporters and said: “Justice has been served.”
A federal indictment charged Foster, Flowers and five others participating in three separate conspiracies to distribute heroin, oxycodone and marijuana. All of the defendants accepted plea agreements, except for Foster, who chose to stand trial.
The case against the 53-year-old Foster – who resigned as Police Chief Jerry Dyer’s No. 2 man after his arrest in March 2015 – and the co-defendants was the product of wiretaps and extensive undercover surveillance by federal agents.
In May, a jury in Ishii’s courtroom convicted Foster of conspiring to distribute heroin and marijuana. The jury hung on six other charges that included conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and using a cell phone in furtherance of drug trafficking.
Foster, who is free on his own recognizance, is appealing his conviction. He is scheduled to return to court in September.
In exchange for Flower’s plea, prosecutors dismissed charges of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, possession of oxycodone and using a cell phone in the commission of a felony. Under the agreement, Flowers faced up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Ishii, however, dramatically reduced the punishment, ruling that Flowers’ two prior felony convictions were old: possession of cocaine in 1989 and being a felon in possession of a firearm in 1994. Ishii also noted that Flowers admitted to federal agents that the guns in his house belonged to him and that he knew he was not permitted to possess them.
The case against Foster, Flowers and five co-defendants was the product of wiretaps and extensive undercover surveillance by federal agents.
In court papers, prosecutors Melanie L. Alsworth and Dawrence “Duce” Rice contended Flowers was a drug dealer who trafficked in marijuana and prescription pills and that he needed the guns to protect his illegal drugs and cash.
Court records say Flowers was arrested on March 26, 2015, at his home, minutes after Foster left.
Prosecutors contend Foster went to Flowers’ home with 100 oxycodone pills that he had picked up from the pharmacy the day before. As Foster drove away from the residence, a traffic stop was conducted. After Foster was arrested, federal agents searched his car and found $1,300 in cash – all $100 bills – and a prescription bottle with his name on it that contained two oxycodone pills.
In Flowers’ home, agents found 98 oxycodone pills in an unmarked pill bottle, $10,200 in cash – all in $100 bills – and four firearms, including a .357-caliber revolver, a .45-caliber pistol and a rifle.
On Monday, Flowers told Ishii he was ready to accept his punishment “so I can move on and close this chapter of my life.” Alworth said in court papers that the 33-month sentence “provides adequate deterrence from future criminal behavior and promotes respect for the law.”