Feds charge San Jose police union executive as hub in Fentanyl distribution ring
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Federal agents have disrupted a fentanyl distribution point in the Bay Area. A surprising twist in the case is that the suspect now charged is an employee of the San Jose police officers union.
"This has been the grandma of the POA. This is not the person we’ve known for more than a decade," said Sean Pritchard, president of the San Jose Police Officer's Association.
On Thursday, he was still in shock and processing the revelation that the woman he thought he knew as his executive director is now charged with distributing opioids.
In a 13-page criminal complaint, federal agents allege Joanne Segovia is the point person for a foreign operation importing and distributing drugs such as fentanyl.
The 62-year-old had worked for two decades as the executive director of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association. In that role, she provided logistical support for the president and board of directors.
"When we first learned of this matter, we placed her on leave," said Pritchard. "There’s no sworn officers involved in this. No other civilian employees."
Prosecutors say since 2015, Segovia used her personal and work computer at the union office, to order thousands of pills. And as recently as Mar. 15, had them delivered to her Almaden Valley home in South San Jose, then shipped nationally and internationally.
One neighbor said he was shocked at the allegations.
"When you think of drug activity, you think of people coming and going. But if this is going across the country, it’s like drug Amazon," the man said.
In a Twitter post, San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan wrote in part, "This is an incredibly disturbing allegation. No one is above the law, regardless of who their employer is…"
Dr. Erin Woodhead, a member of the Santa Clara County Fentanyl Working Group said, "I think this really shows how much of an epidemic we’re in with fentanyl, and overdoses related to fentanyl."
She said there have been 47 Fentanyl overdose deaths so far this year in the Bay Area.
"Tackling it one person at a time, although it might seem like a small step, it’s a step in the right direction to reduce easy access to these types of drugs," said Woodhead.
At the police union, officials have launched an internal investigation into Segovia, to make sure a once trusted coworker who now cast a dark cloud, hasn’t done any more damage.
"Trying to insure that everything, the integrity of the union, is in place. And everything to this point does suggest that to us," said Pritchard.
He said it does not appear any private information for union police officers is at risk. And no union funds were used in the criminal enterprise.
Segovia is free on bail but will appear in federal court Friday.
Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the South Bay bureau. Follow him on Twitter, @JesseKTVU and Instagram, @jessegontv.