Former Los Angeles Police Officer William Ferguson was sentenced this afternoon to 1,224 months in federal prison for participating in a conspiracy involving a group of law enforcement officers and associates who staged a series of home invasion robberies that were made to look like legitimate searches, but in fact were nothing more than bids to steal narcotics and cash.
William Ferguson, 35, was sentenced by United States District Judge Gary A. Feess, who earlier this year presided over a trial in which William Ferguson and his brother, former Long Beach Police Officer Joseph Ferguson, were found guilty of numerous federal charges.
Joseph Ferguson was sentenced two weeks ago to 97 months in federal prison.
The Ferguson brothers, along with former Los Angeles Police Officer Ruben Palomares, who organized the robbery ring, participated in a series of robberies that were committed under the pretense of legitimate law enforcement operations. The group, which included several law enforcement officers and several associates, committed more than 40 home invasion robberies throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area between early 1999 and June of 2001. William Ferguson was convicted of participating in seven of the robberies. The conspirators used their law enforcement status to gain entry into the homes of suspected drug dealers and to steal whatever drugs or money they found inside.
“William Ferguson not only violated the oath he took to become a police officer, he abused citizens as he and his partners attempted to obtain drugs and money,” ” said United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. “His conduct shocks the conscience and certainly warrants the lengthy sentence he received today.”
William Ferguson was found guilty of conspiracy to violate civil rights, conspiracy to distribute narcotics, six counts of violating civil rights, five counts of attempted possession or possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and four counts of brandishing a firearm during the commission of a drug offense or a crime of violence. The four firearm counts carried a mandatory penalty of 82 years in prison.
“This former police officer violated his oath as a public servant when he, along with his co-defendants, began engaging in violent criminal conduct,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “While the vast majority of law enforcement officers carry out their difficult duties in a professional manner, the Department of Justice will not hesitate to prosecute those who cross that line.”
William Ferguson is one of 19 defendants and one of five former police officers to be convicted of participating in the scheme. Palomares was sentenced in the robbery case one week ago. In conjunction with a cocaine trafficking case in San Diego, he will cumulatively serve 20 years in federal prison.
Palomares, who admitted he was the organizer and leader of robbery ring, had faced up to life imprisonment, but prosecutors recommended that he receive a lower sentence after he testified against the Ferguson brothers, who were the only conspirators who went to trial. During the Fergusons’ trial earlier this year, Palomares described how robberies were generally committed after the conspirators received information that a particular location was involved in narcotics trafficking. After planning the operation and conducting surveillance, the robbery team – which usually consisted of multiple sworn police officers either in uniform or displaying a badge – gained access to the residences by falsely telling any occupants that they were conducting a legitimate search for drugs or drug dealers. Victims were often restrained, handcuffed, threatened or assaulted during the search. The assaults included firing a stun gun at a victim, striking victims with police batons and putting a gun in the mouth of a victim. When the group stole narcotics, they would use civilian co-conspirators to sell the drugs and then split the profits among the group.
The investigation in the robbery ring was conducted by a task force comprised of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Long Beach Police Department. The prosecution team was made up of Assistant United States Attorney Douglas M. Miller and Department of Justice Trial Attorneys Jeffrey S. Blumberg and Joshua D. Mahan.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Douglas M. Miller
Release No. 08-067