A detective with the Bakersfield Police Department whose exploits as a high school cross-country athlete were highlighted in the Disney film “McFarland USA” has been indicted for allegedly accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in return for assisting a drug dealer in his methamphetamine operation.
The 16-count federal indictment against Damacio Diaz, 43, was unsealed Thursday. Diaz was arrested at Bakersfield police headquarters Friday morning.
The indictment states Diaz provided the drug dealer with information on law enforcement practices and activities, disclosed the names and identities of police informants and tipped the dealer off to police investigations, including information on a wiretap investigation. He also stole drugs that were supposed to be booked into evidence.
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U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said his office as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI and the IRS participated in the investigation. Wagner said during a news conference Friday that they began looking into Diaz’s activities as a result of information received from unrelated drug investigations earlier this year.
The alleged offenses took place from April 2012 to February of this year, he said.
If convicted of the charges in the indictment, Diaz faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison for the conspiracy, 10 years in prison for each count of bribery, 20 years in prison to life for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, five years in prison for each count of intentional disclosure of wiretap information, and three years in prison for each count of making a false income tax return.
Just two weeks before he was placed on leave, Diaz posed for photos on the red carpet at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.
He was there to attend the world premiere of Disney’s “McFarland USA” that chronicled the 1987 state-championship McFarland High School cross-country team, on which Diaz and two of his brothers competed.