As a Fresno deputy chief of police, Keith Foster wore expensive suits purchased in Los Angeles.
In his spare time, he would buy diamonds and furs and drive a Mercedes.
His backup ride was a Corvette.
But now, he has hit hard times. In addition to facing federal drug charges, Foster, 51, has a monthly payment of $5,100 in spousal and child support and owes about $38,000 in back taxes to the IRS and tens of thousands of dollars in credit-card and loan debt, even though he made nearly $14,995 per month in gross income last year from the Fresno Police Department, according to his divorce file in Fresno County Superior Court.
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“He literally can’t afford a place to live,” said Fresno attorney Marshall Hodgkins, who is representing Foster in U.S. District Court against charges of conspiracy to distribute and/or possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone, heroin and marijuana. Five other people are also charged in the federal complaint.
Foster, who is on paid administrative leave, is free while the criminal case makes its way through court. He faces up to 45 years in prison and a $2.5 million fine if convicted.
Hodgkins said Monday that Foster told him he no longer owns a Mercedes or the Corvette. He drives a BMW that is about four or five years old and still owes about $20,000 for it, Hodgkins said.
Monday, Foster’s fiancee dropped him off at Hodgkins’ office on Shaw Avenue for a two-hour meeting to discuss the pending criminal case.
Hodgkins declined to say whether Foster’s bleak finances played a role in the criminal case. Instead, he turned the tables on the question, saying if Foster was rich, people would speculate that he was a successful drug kingpin.
What Hodgkins would say was that Foster is going through a “horrible and terrible divorce and that he recently had to borrow $15,000. He is literally living in someone’s house,” Hodgkins said.
Court records say Foster has six children, ranging in age from 28 to 12, and has been divorced three times — in 1990, 1993 and 2013.
Money wasn’t the main issue in the first two divorces, court records show. But in the third divorce, finances became the focal point of a bitter fight between Keith Foster and his ex, Yvonne.
This month, Yvonne Foster received a court ruling that ordered the Fresno Police Department to garnish Foster’s wages at a tune of $5,100 a month for child and spousal support.
In court documents, Yvonne Foster, who was married to the deputy chief for 17 years, said, “During our marriage, our standard of living was very high.” They were able to purchase items “without concern” and take three to four vacations a year, she said.
Yvonne Foster also said in court papers that the deputy chief had a fondness for expensive suits, diamonds and furs, and his Mercedes and Corvette. She drove a large SUV and a Camaro. But their lavish lifestyle soon unraveled.
In October 2009, a home they purchased on the Fresno river bluffs in 2004 for $729,000 was foreclosed. (The home in the gated community of River Park Bluffs was later purchased by two doctors in December 2012 for $625,000.)
In divorce papers, Yvonne Foster, a stay-at-home mother, said her former husband owed about $50,000 in car payments, had little or no savings, owed back taxes to the IRS and had huge credit-card debt.
Keith Foster’s finances got so bad that in July 2013 he cashed out 200 hours of vacation pay for $13,796, the divorce file shows. That left him with 484 hours of vacation, his pay stub says. (At the time, he also had 1,490 hours of sick leave on the books.)
With the criminal case pending, Hodgkins said he didn’t want Foster to be interviewed. A telephone call to Fresno attorney Rick Banks, who represents Yvonne Foster in her divorce case, was not returned Monday.
But in court papers, Yvonne Foster said the deputy chief’s “very busy lifestyle” and his long work hours have been disruptive to their children. In court papers, she said the deputy chief sometimes leaves their children, ages 12 and 14, alone “for long hours unsupervised and without care” while he has visitation rights. She cited two examples:
• In December 2013, during the Christmas break, he went to Oakland and left the children home alone for 16 hours, she said. Yvonne Foster had gone to San Diego to visit relatives.
• And according to a letter Banks sent to Keith Foster’s lawyer for the divorce case, the deputy chief also has left his children home alone so he could attend a Fresno State game and has asked his children “to keep secrets from their mother about his girlfriend, including a Hawaiian vacation they took together.”
In court papers, Keith Foster says that since 2007 he has paid his ex-wife expenses, including rent, food, clothing, and utility and phone bills, totaling about $3,400 a month. But he also acknowledges owing the IRS about $38,000 and the Fresno Police Department’s credit union about $32,000, plus other debts.
“At this point, I am barely able to afford to support petitioner and our children because our outstanding debt is so excessive,” he said. “Truly, I am on the brink of bankruptcy and cannot afford additional debt.”