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More undercover drug cases disappear amid growing SFPD scandal

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Eight more criminal cases were dropped Tuesday by prosecutors in connection with a looming scandal involving an undercover police unit accused of conducting illegal drug raids and falsifying police reports, defense attorneys said.

The cases in San Francisco Superior Court involved the same officers previously accused of entering residential hotel rooms without warrants or consent and then allegedly lying about their actions on police reports, according to the Public Defender’s Office. One officer was accused of falsely arresting a man for drug possession.

On Tuesday, prosecutors dismissed cases against eight more people, in connection with arrests between July and February involving the same officers in the unit, bringing the total number of dropped cases to 13, the Public Defender’s Office said. Some of the cases involved “buy-bust” undercover drug sting operations at Sixth and Market streets in the Tenderloin.

A 52-year-old man arrested Oct. 2 was facing 35 years in prison for alleged possession of heroin and cocaine for sale, according to the Public Defender’s Office. Another man was facing life for auto burglary and accepting stolen property in a three-strikes case.

The District Attorney’s Office declined comment on Tuesday’s cases, but Sharon Woo, chief assistant for the operations department, said Monday that her office was looking at every case involving the officers.

The Police Officers Association has retained Mike Rains, a renowned attorney who has represented police officers for about 30 years, including former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle.

Rains said Tuesday he was still gathering information about the San Francisco cases and will likely represent one of the officers.

“I think that it will become evident that there isn’t any widespread corruption or dishonesty in this unit,” Rains said.

On Tuesday, Adachi also fired off a letter to District Attorney George Gascón requesting information on all arrests in the past seven years involving the eight officers so far named, including the supervising sergeant of the unit, Samuel Christ. Adachi is also seeking information on whether the officers have any history of misconduct documented by police, and on all drug arrests at the Henry Hotel and Hotel Royan.

The officers have since been placed on desk duty during an Internal Affairs investigation by the Police Department. The FBI and District Attorney’s Office are investigating.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

Get out of jail free

Eight more cases were dropped Tuesday in the growing scandal involving an SFPD undercover unit.

- 23-year-old man and co-defendant arrested Jan. 12 at Sixth and Market streets, both charged with misdemeanor grand theft. They were facing a year in jail.
- 52-year-old man arrested Oct. 2 in a car in the Tenderloin, charged with multiple felony counts of possession of heroin and cocaine for sale. He was facing 35 years in prison.
- Man arrested July 30 in front of the Henry Hotel, where he lived, charged with felony possession of crack cocaine for sale. He was facing 27 years and four months in prison.
- 35-year-old man and 55-year-old man arrested Feb. 16 in a buy-bust operation at Sixth and Market streets, both charged with felony marijuana sales.
- 43-year-old man arrested Oct. 17 at 10th and Bryant streets, charged with auto burglary and accepting stolen property, both felonies. He was facing life in prison.
- 28-year-old man arrested Sept. 4, charged with two counts of drug sales.

Source: Public Defender’s Office