Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood responds as KCSO deputies take a plea

Posted at 6:21 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 21:21:27-04

Two former Kern County Sheriff's Office deputies have pleaded no contest to their involvement in illegally removing and attempting to sell marijuana. 23ABC's Lezla Gooden has a reaction from the sheriff who held a press conference shortly after the announcement was made.

After a year-long investigation, the district attorney announced new information surrounding former Kern County Sheriff deputies Logan August and Derick Penney's participation in a marijuana selling scheme. Sheriff Donny Youngblood expressed strong opinions about the situation in a press conference Thursday afternoon.

"It has been extremely frustrating and embarrassing but it became more palpable once we moved along and said that we need to look at the and audit that because the last thing we want is an officer who is corrupt," said Youngblood.

The investigation was initiated following a plea deal between August and Derrick Penny, another former KCSO deputy, and Federal Prosecutors of the United States Attorney’s Office.

The DA's Office said upon learning of the Federal plea, KCSO Commander Erik Levig began an investigation in conjunction with the District Attorney Investigator Don Krueger to learn the true extent of the crimes committed by any member of KCSO. This year-long investigation revealed several new offenses committed by August and Penney.

Investigators learned that August had assisted other law enforcement agencies in transporting seized marijuana from a crime scene to the Sheriff’s property room for booking and storage.

August and Penny were investigated alongside two former Bakersfield Police Detectives, Damacio Diaz and Patrick Mara. Both detectives were sentenced for their roles in the drug ring, however, both sentences were reduced.

According to the California Department of Justice, Diaz and Mara deliberately failed to submit seized drugs as evidence and instead provided the stolen narcotics to another man, Noel Carter. Carter would then could sell those narcotics for profit.

"During the investigation, we interviewed 60 different witnesses including the two suspects and we discovered the street value of what was missing was $450,000," said Youngblood.

The investigation also found that August never attempted to dispose of the drugs after entering the locker room and investigators never found the stolen drugs. The sheriff said they are making sure this doesn't happen again,

"We made some changes in our pretty room and we aren't under the illusion that if an officer wants to be corrupt they will find a way and it's our job to weed them out," explained Youngblood.

August is expected to appear back in court on October 13 for sentencing. Penney will serve 90 days in custody then will be placed on probation for his involvement in the case.