Another defendant linked to former Fresno police Deputy Chief Keith Foster’s alleged drug trafficking ring has signed a plea agreement in U.S. District Court in Fresno.
Jennifer Donabedian has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of “misprision of a felony” in that she knew her boyfriend, Denny Foster, was a major marijuana dealer, assisted in his illegal operation, and failed to tell authorities about it, the plea agreement says. Denny Foster is Keith Foster’s nephew and also a defendant in the alleged drug trafficking ring.
Donabedian is expected to formally accept the plea offer Sept. 12 in Judge Anthony Ishii’s courtroom. In exchange for her guilty plea, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 12 months of probation. Ishii, however, is not bound by the plea agreement and could give Donabedian as much as three years in prison.
According to the plea agreement, Denny Foster “sold marijuana as his primary source of income for a period of years.” One of his alleged suppliers was Ricky Reynolds of Shasta County, who also has been charged in the alleged ring.
“Denny Foster would regularly travel to Shasta County, California to acquire marijuana from Reynolds, return to Fresno, California with the marijuana, then distribute the marijuana to customers in Fresno and Albuquerque, New Mexico,” Donabedian’s plea agreement says.
Defendant assisted Denny Foster in weighing and distributing the marijuana from the residence in his absence.
Statement in Jennifer Donabedian’s plea agreement
Donabedian traveled with Denny Foster to Shasta County “on multiple occasions to acquire marijuana,” the plea agreement says. She also knew Denny Foster “would conceal the marijuana in a cooler inside the trunk of the vehicle to prevent detection by law enforcement in the event of a traffic stop ... (and) also permitted Denny Foster use of her vehicle to makes these trips in her absence,” the agreement says.
Donabedian knew Denny Foster stored the marijuana in their home and “assisted in weighing and distributing the marijuana from the residence in his absence,” the agreement says.
In addition, Donabedian helped her boyfriend conceal his crime by making cash deposits in her checking account, the agreement says. She would then transfer the money into another account. “Defendant knew that the cash deposits were the proceeds of Denny Foster’s drug transactions (marijuana and other controlled substances),” the agreement says.
In all, Donabedian knew Denny Foster sold at least 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of marijuana between Dec. 11, 2014, and March 26, 2015, prosecutors contend.
Jennifer Donabedian knew Denny Foster sold at least 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of marijuana between Dec. 11, 2014, and March 26, 2015, prosecutors contend.
Donabedian is the third defendant in the case involving Foster to sign a plea agreement. She and her attorney could not be reached Monday for comment.
Last year, Sarah Ybarra pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and/or possess with the intent to distribute marijuana. In exchange, federal prosecutors dropped three other charges. She was sentenced in November to a year in prison for mailing several pounds of marijuana through a package delivery company. Ybarra is friends with Donabedian and Denny Foster.
In May, Rafael Guzman Jr. pleaded guilty to conspiring with Keith Foster to sell heroin, becoming the first defendant to implicate the former deputy chief. In announcing his plea, 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.
Guzman accepted the plea deal because he faced up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine if he had been convicted of the charges at trial. As part of his plea agreement, Guzman waived his right to a jury trial and right to appeal his pending sentence, which ranges from 46 to 57 months, said Fresno defense lawyer Sal Sciandra, who represents Guzman. He will not testify against Foster or any other defendant, Sciandra has said.
Guzman was initially scheduled to be sentenced on Monday. His sentencing hearing, however, has been delayed to Oct. 11.
A federal indictment, unsealed April 9, 2015, charges Keith Foster with participating in three separate conspiracies to distribute different controlled substances. Foster, the No. 2 man behind police Chief Jerry Dyer, resigned from the Fresno Police Department shortly after his arrest.
Foster is charged with conspiring with co-defendant Randy Flowers to distribute oxycodone, a prescription painkiller that is addictive. Flowers is further charged with being a felon in possession of three firearms. Flowers is Foster’s nephew.
The 13-page indictment also charges Foster with conspiring with Guzman to distribute heroin.
In a third alleged conspiracy, Foster is charged with conspiring with Reynolds, Donabedian, Ybarra and Denny Foster to distribute marijuana. Reynolds also is separately charged with manufacturing marijuana, and both Reynolds and Denny Foster are charged individually in various counts alleging distribution of marijuana. Denny Foster is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Each defendant is charged with at least one count of using a cellphone in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. Finally, Denny Foster is charged with conspiring with Guzman to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.
The case against Keith Foster and the remaining defendants includes tens of thousands of pages of documents, transcripts of wiretaps, and information from seized electronic devices, prosecutors say.
They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are out of custody. In April federal prosecutors offered plea deals to them, but they rejected the offers. They have a Sept. 19 status hearing. Their trial is scheduled for next May.