Crime - Sacto 911

Former Yuba City police officer sentenced to prison for bribery

Harminder Phagura.
Harminder Phagura. Sacramento Bee file photo

A former Yuba City police officer has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for bribery in connection with a drug trafficking scheme.

Harminder Phagura, 37, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr., according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release. Phagura pleaded guilty to the charge in June.

While employed as a Yuba City police officer, Phagura provided sensitive information gained from his official position in exchange for money, according to court documents. His co-defendant and distant relative, Gursharan Phargua, allegedly transmitted this police-only information to a government source, who was posing as a cocaine trafficker.

On July 29, 2014, federal agents observed Gursharan Phagura meeting with Harminder Phagura in a Yuba City police vehicle. At the same time, Gursharan Phagura and the government source were exchanging text messages regarding the police presence in the area, according to the news release. Government agents caused an alert to be transmitted on the Yuba City Police Department’s dispatch system, and within a few minutes, the government source received text messages indicating, in coded language, that law enforcement officers were in the area.

Over the course of the undercover operation, the government source paid a total of $6,000 for the information, the news release said.

Gursharan Phagura is charged with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute it. His next court date is March 31.

The case resulted from an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the FBI and the Yuba City Police Department.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy