Bill McEwen

Is convicted cop Foster delusional? Or just trying to dodge prison?

I suppose there’s a chance that Keith Foster, the Fresno deputy police chief turned drug dealer, is delusional and really believes he did nothing wrong.

Or it could be that he’s just another crook trying to get off scot-free.

If he is delusional, give part of the credit to federal Judge Anthony Ishii, who presided over Foster’s trial. After Foster was convicted May 23 of conspiring to distribute heroin and marijjuana, Ishii let him walk out of court instead of ordering him into custody while awaiting sentencing on the two felonies.

A jury weighs the evidence, determines that Foster is dirty beyond any reasonable doubt and the judge says go on home until we need you back?

No wonder Foster is still claiming his innocence. Sitting at home collecting his $93,000 yearly city pension, he probably asks himself twice a day, was there a trial or is this a bad dream?

There was a trial, all right, and attorney E. Marshall Hodgkins did yeoman’s work defending Foster.

The feds built their case with wiretaps and surveillance. They used Foster’s own words and actions against him. Hodgkins did his job so well that the jury hung on six of the eight charges. And they hung on those counts despite Foster’s made-up excuse that he was simply collecting information about crime in Fresno.

Foster has another attorney now. The new guy, Michael McKneely, told The Bee’s Pablo Lopez that Foster called him after the verdict, reiterated his innocence and said he got railroaded.

Close followers of the Foster story might detect a pattern.

The day after Foster’s arrest in March 2015 he was headed to the federal courthouse with an FBI agent. While in the car, Foster blurted out that his family got him into this, according to a federal trial brief.

First, it was his family that got him into dealing drugs.

Then, it was he was innocent and we should ignore all those wiretaps because talking drugs on the phone to drug dealers and visiting their houses is what supercop Keith Foster does even though as deputy chief he is supposed to be in charge of patrol – not narcotics – and he never told any of his bosses what he was doing.

Now he’s innocent and, take your pick, his first lawyer, the jury or who knows who else did him wrong.

It’s all ridiculous.

If some other cop engaging in a conspiracy to deal drugs had told such a story to Foster back in the day, Foster would have cuffed him and told him to be “a man” on the ride to jail.

Big, intimidating, fearless Keith Foster acting the victim is not a good look.

Which brings us back to the original question: Is Foster delusional or doing what crooks often do instead of owning up?

Perhaps the answer is both.

He’s delusional enough to believe that someone might actually swallow his swill. And delusional enough to have turned down a plea deal that would have had him out of the federal pen in 46 months.

Foster’s also a desperate crook. Not just any crook, either. He’s a dirty cop facing a long stretch behind bars and significant fines.

If his new lawyer fails in getting the convictions overturned, it will be interesting to see at his sentencing in October if Foster finally takes responsibility for what he did, apologizes and explains to the court and the community what led him into drug dealing.

If he does that, we’ll know that he’s neither delusional nor willing to try any trick in the book to remain free.

He’ll simply be what he is.