SAN FRANCISCO—The United States Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of California announced on Friday, March 12 two former Rohnert Park police officers are facing charges for allegedly pulling over drivers on Highway 101 and taking their drugs and money under the threat of arrest. The officers facing charges are Brendon Jacy Tatum and Joseph Huffaker.
In addition, the officers two took drugs and money from motorists and did not report the stops or submit the drugs and funds as evidence. The stops were captured by their body cameras. Federal prosecutors said they continued to stop motorists even after the drug-seizure program ended when California legalized recreational use of marijuana in November 2016. The pair were part of a team of officers assigned to seize illegal drugs from motorists between Cloverdale and Rohnert Park between 2015 and 2017. In 2019, the city paid Huffaker a $75,000 settlement to resign after he fought the city’s attempts to terminate him. Tatum resigned in 2018.
Prosecutors said Tatum was allegedly extorting marijuana from motorists, he deposited more than $400,000 into his and his wife’s bank accounts. He deposited amounts under $10,000 in what officials said was an attempt to avoid an investigation. Prosecutors noted that Tatum purchased a $46,000 fishing boat with cash that did not come from a bank account nor did he report any of his assets on his taxes.
On March 12, both defendants appeared in court and were charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under the color of authority, and Tatum was charged with falsifying records in a federal investigation and tax evasion. Both defendants face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Rohnert Park city officials are cooperating with the federal investigation issuing the following statement on Friday that read:
“The City of Rohnert Park does not tolerate corrupt and unethical practices within the ranks of its employees, particularly its sworn peace officers, and those officers involved in today’s charges are no longer employed by the City.”