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Yuba City police officer, relative plead not guilty in bribery, cocaine case

Officer Harminder Phagura
Officer Harminder Phagura Photo courtesy Yuba City Police Department

Through their attorneys, Yuba City police Officer Harminder Singh Phagura and Gursharan Phagura, a drug sale suspect, told a judge Friday they are not guilty of bribery and a conspiracy to facilitate narcotics trafficking.

The pair are under federal indictment on those charges and were in court for an arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman.

Harminder Phagura, 35, is free on a $100,000 unsecured bond. He remains on paid administrative leave from the Yuba City Police Department. On Wednesday, Newman ordered Gursharan Phagura, 39, held without bail as a danger and a flight risk.

The are accused in the indictment of each accepting $3,000 from a Department of Homeland Security informant, ostensibly so the informant could conduct drug deals in Yuba City without interference from law enforcement. The trio cooperated in three such deals between July 29 and March 1, although they were merely “simulations” set up by Homeland Security through the informant, according to the indictment.

The informant, who was posing as a cocaine peddler, has not been publicly identified.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Hemesath told the judge Friday that he will shortly be turning over to defense attorneys – Tom Johnson for Gursharan Phagura and Michael Barrette for Harminder Phagura – evidence gathered in the government’s investigation. He said the “voluminous” stack of material will include “wiretap and surveillance results” and various other agents’ reports.

The Phaguras, who are distantly related, are scheduled to return to the federal courthouse with their attorneys June 18 for a status conference with U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley, who will preside over the prosecution.

Call The Bee’s Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.

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