Crime - Sacto 911

Former Yuba City police officer pleads guilty to bribery

A former Yuba City police officer has pleaded guilty to bribery in connection with a drug-trafficking scheme.

Harminder Phagura, 35, pleaded guilty Friday in Sacramento to one count of federal programs bribery, according to a U.S. attorney’s office news release.

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, Gursharan Phagura, allegedly transmitted this police-only information to a government source, who was posing as a cocaine trafficker. The defendants are distantly related.

During the investigation, on July 29, 2014, federal agents observed Gusharan Phagura meet Haminder Phagura in a Yuba City police vehicle. At the same time, Gusharan Phagura and the government source were exchanging text messages regarding the state of police presence in the area, authorities said. Agents then caused an alert to be transmitted on the Yuba City Police Department’s dispatch system. 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 several undercover operations, the government source paid a total of $6,000 for information, according to authorities.

Gusharan Phagura is charged with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute it. He and Harminder Phagura were arrested April 15, 2015. Harminder Phagura is out of custody on a $100,000 bond, and Gusharan Phagura is in custody.

Federal officials said Harminder Phagura faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. The case resulted from an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the FBI and Yuba City Police Department.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy