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Source of drugs in Hanford cop case probed

The Fresno Bee,
BYLINE: Lewis Griswold - The Fresno Bee
Link to Article

Hanford, CA

A Hanford police officer arrested on suspicion of drug possession appears to have gotten them from people he busted, Hanford police chief Carlos Mestas said Friday.

Hanford police arrested officer Ernesto Servin, 30, on Thursday after getting a tip that one of their own was involved in drug-related crimes.

Servin served 4 1/2 years on the Hanford force. The Kings County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday passed on a tip implicating Servin and police launched an investigation.

Police waited for him to come to work Thursday, took away his weapon and confronted him, Mestas said. Servin resigned on the spot, he said.

"It tarnishes our reputation" to have a fellow officer implicated in a serious crime, Mestas said. "Every officer here is just sick about it."

Investigators found marijuana, methamphetamine, OxyContin and a handgun in the trunk of Servin's car, Mestas said. Servin faces drug possession and other charges, including filing false police reports, he said.

Police are still checking reports that Servin took drugs from suspects he encountered as an officer, Mestas said.

Managers viewed him as a good officer, and Servin passed a background check and psychological review; his motivation for allegedly possessing drugs is unknown, Mestas said.

The District Attorney's Office said Friday it is reviewing drug convictions that Servin was involved in to make sure none are tainted.

A defendant convicted of a drug offense based on Servin's testimony could claim that evidence was withheld and seek to have the conviction overturned, chief trial attorney Larry Crouch said.

But Crouch said he believes the cases will hold and that Servin confiscated drugs from people who were never arrested.

Servin's case comes on the heels of other "bad cop" cases in the Valley.

Selma police officer Frederick Sayles, 34, was arrested in Virginia last month of suspicion of transporting several pounds of marijuana. Former Selma officer Gabriel Sepeda, 38, was also arrested in the case.

Nicholas Simpson, 34, a Kings County deputy sheriff, last year was caught stealing money from a decoy drug bust.

Servin was released from jail on $125,000 bail.

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