Contra Costa County DA drops 40 cases tainted by possible police 'moral turpitude'

Contra Costa County prosecutors have dropped 40 criminal cases because they were linked to East Bay officers under investigation for offenses of "moral turpitude," the office confirmed on Friday.

The DA’s office would not disclose which cases were dropped, citing the ongoing review of work performed by officers who are now under legal scrutiny. 

The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigations announced in March they were investigating Antioch and Pittsburg police department officers for a "broad range of offenses." 

Details about that investigation remain murky.

Today, Chief Assistant District Attorney Simon O’Connell said there are "multiple officers" who are subjects of an ongoing criminal investigation involving a range of offenses, including crimes of moral turpitude.

"The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office is actively engaged in evaluating these cases to determine whether the charged case is compromised or whether the case can proceed," O'Connell wrote. "Community safety remains paramount, and the District Attorney’s Office remains steadfast in preserving as many cases as possible."

In an email, DA spokesman Ted Asregadoo said he didn't know if any more cases would be dropped.

Pittsburg police have previously said the investigation involves three of their current officers. Those officers have been placed on paid leave pending the investigation. The department said in September 2021, they received a tip that one of its officers was involved in illegal activity and that other officers were also involved. 

What can constitute a crime of moral turpitude is vague. By definition, it's when the criminal intent is reckless and considered "morally reprehensible" by state statute, such as unjustified violence.  

However, KTVU has learned that prosecutors and federal agents are looking into the possible abuse of prescription testosterone supplements. They are also looking into allegations that officers joked about who was bringing heroin and cocaine to so-called parties, a source said.  

Police officers' testimony and reports are key in putting defendants behind bars.

The DA’s office review is running parallel to a similar process in federal court, where at least a dozen prosecutions have been halted or reversed, sometimes after the defendant already pleaded guilty or was sentenced, the Bay Area News Group reported.