Nearly a year after former Fresno police Deputy Chief Keith Foster and six others were indicted on drug-trafficking charges, a date for their federal trial is far from certain.
At a status hearing Monday, prosecutor Melanie Alsworth told U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila Oberto that more evidence needs to be turned over to defense attorneys.
The evidence includes transcripts of wiretaps and information from seized electronic devices, said Alsworth, an assistant U.S. attorney. Alsworth said she needs four to six weeks to accomplish this task.
Because defense lawyers will need time to review the evidence before a trial can be scheduled, Oberto said the next status hearing will be June 20.
By the June 20 date, Alsworth said she also plans to have plea agreements prepared for defense lawyers to consider. Alsworth, however, did not identify which defendants would be considered for a plea agreement.
The federal indictment, unsealed April 9, charges Foster with participating in three separate conspiracies to distribute different controlled substances. Foster resigned from the Fresno Police Department in early April, shortly after his arrest.
Foster is charged with conspiring with a codefendant, Randy Flowers, to distribute oxycodone. They are charged individually in four separate counts to distribute or possess with the intent 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 charged Foster and Rafael Guzman with conspiring to distribute heroin. Foster also is charged with conspiring with Ricky Reynolds, Jennifer Donabedian and Denny Foster to distribute marijuana. Denny Foster is also a nephew of Keith Foster.
Reynolds 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 and Guzman are charged with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.
A seventh defendant, Sarah Ybarra, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and/or possess with intent to distribute marijuana. In exchange, federal prosecutors agreed to drop three other charges.
In November, Ybarra, a friend of Denny Foster, was sentenced to a year in prison for mailing several pounds of marijuana through a package delivery company. Defense lawyer Richard Beshwate, who represented Ybarra, has said Ybarra neither knew Keith Foster nor will have to testify against him.
Foster and the remaining defendants are out of custody. Keith and Denny Foster, Flowers, and Donabedian appeared in court for Monday’s hearing. Guzman and Reynolds were allowed to waive their right to attend the hearing.