Alameda County DA To Charge 7 Bay Area Officers In Teen Sex Scandal

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Alameda County District Attorney announced Friday that charges would be filed against seven current and former East Bay law enforcement officers involved in a notorious sex scandal centered around a teen sex worker.

The scandal centers around a 19-year-old sex worker who calls herself Celeste Guap. She claims she slept with dozens of police officers, including some while she was underage. Those claims triggered internal affairs investigations at several Bay Area law enforcement agencies.

District Attorney Nancy O’Malley listed a catalog of felony and misdemeanor charges that would be filed against the seven individuals, including a former Livermore police officer, five former and current Oakland police officers and one former Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy.

Two of the officers have been charged with felony counts of oral copulation with a minor.

Contra Costa County sheriff’s Deputy Ricardo Perez, who resigned as details of the scandal emerged, has been charged with one count of felony oral copulation with a minor and with two counts of committing a lewd act in a public place.

Dan Black, a Livermore police officer who left the department this week, was charged with two counts of engaging in an act of prostitution and two acts of committing a lewd act in a public place.

Oakland police Officer Brian Bunton has been charged with one count of felony obstruction of justice and one count of engaging in an act of prostitution.

Officer Tyrell Smith, an Oakland police officer who resigned in May, has been charged with four counts of conducting search of criminal justice system data without authorized purpose.

Smith had sexual conduct with Guap but it happened in Contra Costa County outside of O’Malley’s jurisdiction, she said.

Retired Oakland police Sgt. Leroy Johnson was charged with failure to report sexual misconduct against a minor. Oakland police Officer Giovani LoVerde was charged with felony oral copulation with a minor.

Oakland police Officer Warit Utappa was charged with one misdemeanor count of knowingly and without permission conducting a search of official criminal justice data and computer systems without an authorized purpose.

In convicted, Perez and LoVerde would have to register as sex offenders.

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“The serious nature of the allegations called for nothing less than a meticulous examination of any and all evidence that came to light,” said O’Malley. “The task of sorting through verbal and on-line statements to uncover and establish truth and fact was monumental.

O’Malley said the team of investigators gathered and reviewed nearly 150,000 pages of extrinsic data, including 2,899 pages of Instagram postings, 76,472 pages of Facebook communication, 59,960 text messages; 6,069 images, 546 multi-media messages and 21 videos.

Investigators also interviewed Guap four separate times in addition to speaking with multiple officers involved.

There was “no evidence” Guap ever actually met Oakland police officer Brendan O’Brien, whose suicide triggered the sex crime investigation, according to O’Malley.

Sources say O’Brien wrote in his suicide note they exchanged pictures and text messages and that was it.

Additionally, O’Malley said there was insufficient evidence to substantiate some of what the victim claimed, so at least four officers implicated in the investigation will not be charged and will remain unnamed.

“I am grateful to District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s office for agreeing to conduct a parallel and independent criminal investigation in this matter,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf in a statement released Friday afternoon. “The results of both the administrative and criminal investigations make it clear that misconduct will not be tolerated. The consequences of poor judgment and bad behavior can end careers and shatter lives”

The Oakland Police Officers’ Association issued a statement after the plan to charge the five Oakland officers implicated was announced.

“The actions of a few are disappointing, but I want to remind the residents of Oakland that the overwhelming majority of Oakland Police Officers are out there working hard for our community,” said OPOA President Barry Donelan in the statement.

On Wednesday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced that the department began proceedings to fire four officers, suspend seven others and discipline one officer in connection to the scandal.

Officers at other Bay Area law enforcement agencies have also been implicated in the case, including in the district attorney’s office, where former Oakland police Capt. Ricardo Orozco was fired for contact with the woman.

Richmond police Chief Allwyn Brown said in August that an investigation of Richmond officers seemed likely to uncover department violations but no violations of law.

Richmond police Officer Jerrod Tong was placed on leave in connection with the investigation in July after he was reassigned away from positions where he had any interaction with youth.

Lt. Andre Hill, a department spokesman, was also reassigned from his role as manager of the Youth and Special Services Division, but remains on active duty with the department.

O’Malley is upset with Richmond police for sending Guap to a rehab facility in Florida. She said her office was blindsided by the move.

Now Guap is locked up in a Florida jail after police say she attacked a security guard. She remains in jail under $300,000 bail, according to jail records.

That could complicate the prosecution of the officers.

“If we don’t have a witness we can’t prosecute the case. And she’s obviously the central witness in this case,” said O’Malley.

O’Malley is working with authorities in Florida to find out what will happen to Guap. She said the DA’s office is willing to pay for her flight back to California.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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