FBI, Contra Costa DA’s Office investigating possible “crimes of moral turpitude” in Antioch, Pittsburg Police Departments

“conduct that shocks the public conscience, or which does not fall within the moral standards held by the community” – LegalDictionary.com

Will evaluate whether cases involving officers are now compromised

UPDATE: Pittsburg PD issues statement, 3 officers placed on paid leave

By Allen D. Payton

Late Friday afternoon, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office announced that on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, the FBI and the DA’s Office conducted court-authorized law enforcement activity at multiple locations. The criminal investigation pertains to sworn law enforcement officers from the Antioch Police Department and Pittsburg Police Department.

The broad range of offenses under investigation involve crimes of moral turpitude. A review of both active and closed cases involving these officers will be necessary to evaluate whether those cases are now compromised. Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, no additional details will be released at this time.

The involved police departments and cities have cooperated with the investigation to ensure minimal disruption to their respective communities. The District Attorney’s Office will continue to work in conjunction with federal authorities along with the cities of Antioch and Pittsburg to ensure public trust and public safety.

According to LegalDictionary.com moral turpitude means, “Conduct that is believed to be contrary to community standards of honesty, good morals, or justice.” In addition, that website reads, “Moral turpitude is a legal concept that refers to any conduct that is believed to be contrary to the community standards of honesty, justice, or good moral values. While there is no one exact definition of acts that are considered under moral turpitude, they are typically described as any acts of vileness or depravity, or of sexual immorality, whether in a private or social context.  The word turpitude is defined as a shameful, vile, or corrupt character or acts. Moral turpitude refers to conduct that shocks the public conscience, or which does not fall within the moral standards held by the community. The law concerning moral turpitude is constantly changing and evolving, as the moral standards of society in general change.”

UPDATE: Pittsburg PD Places 3 Officers on Paid Leave

The Pittsburg PD issued the following statement on their social media accounts early Friday evening:

“The Pittsburg Police Department is aware of a joint criminal investigation being conducted by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office along with the FBI. The investigation involves several local police officers, including three current Pittsburg Police Officers. Anytime there is any allegation of criminal misconduct, that is something our organization takes extremely seriously.

In September of 2021, the department received information that a Pittsburg Officer was involved in illegal activity. The tip also indicated that other law enforcement officers were involved, but did not go into further details. When we learned of the allegations, we immediately contacted the District Attorney’s Office and asked them to conduct an independent criminal investigation.

This past Wednesday, the FBI and the District Attorney’s Office met with three current Pittsburg Police Officers as part of this investigation. After the meetings, all three Pittsburg Police Officers were placed on paid administrative leave. This is still an active criminal investigation being conducted by two outside law enforcement agencies, so we do not have further details into the alleged misconduct. The Pittsburg Police Department will continue to cooperate with the DA’s Office and the FBI. We will also be conducting our own internal investigation that will be completed by an independent, outside investigator.

Please know that the women and men at our Department remain committed to serving our community. Any officer who has violated their oath of office by engaging in illegal or unethical conduct will be held accountable.”

No Response from City of Antioch, Yet

A copy of the DA’s release was sent, Friday at 4:36 p.m., to Interim Antioch Police Chief Tony Morefield, copying Captain Trevor Schnitzius asking if they can provide any information about the investigation. Morefield said any inquiries about the matter must be made to the City of Antioch public information officer (PIO).

An email was then sent to Antioch’s PIO Rolando Bonilla after business hours on Friday asking for the response from the city.

A question was also sent to Assistant DA Simon O’Connell after hours Friday asking for his office’s legal definition of “crimes of moral turpitude”.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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