Here’s a twist in the law enforcement narrative about the fentanyl trade, as the 20-year executive director of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association has been criminally charged for importing and distributing “thousands of opioid and other pills” including fentanyl.

Whenever we discuss any city's “police officers’ association,” it is important to draw the distinction that this is not the police department itself. Police officers’ associations are the unions that represent the officers, they are not a reflection on department leadership. But police officers’ associations can rightfully be considered a reflection of the department’s rank-and-file, as the officers do vote for their boards of directors, and those boards of directors do oversee who serves on the union’s administrative staff.

Keep that in mind as we learn of this JUST… WOW story that the executive director of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association has been charged by the Department of Justice with importing and distributing fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, as the Chronicle reports. And no small amount of the stuff, either! According to a the federal criminal complaint obtained by the Chronicle, San Jose Police Officers’ Association (SJPOA) executive director Joanne Segovia had one shipment sent to her that was 1.55 kilograms (“around 4,000 pills,” per the feds), two other shipments roughly that size, and many other smaller shipments.  

“The complaint alleges that between October 2015 and January 2023, Segovia had at least 61 shipments mailed to her home, originating from countries including Hong Kong, Hungary, India, and Singapore,” according to a DOJ press release. “The manifests for these shipments declared their contents with labels like ‘Wedding Party Favors,’ ‘Gift Makeup,’ or ‘Chocolate and Sweets.’ But between July 2019 and January 2023, officials intercepted and opened five of these shipments and found that they contained thousands of pills of controlled substances, including the synthetic opioids Tramadol and Tapentadol.”

“On March 13, 2023, federal agents seized a parcel in Kentucky, containing valeryl fentanyl, addressed to Segovia,” the release adds. “The package allegedly originated from China on March 10, 2023 and declared its contents as a ‘clock.’”

SJPOA spokesperson Tom Saggau said in a statement to the Chronicle, “No one at the POA is involved or had prior knowledge of the alleged acts,” and, “The POA immediately placed the civilian employee on leave and as is standard procedure cut off all access to the POA.”

The whole “paid leave” thing might make your blood boil, particularly if you are a San Jose taxpayer. But what's notable there is that Segovia is described as a “civilian employee,” not an officer, and her LinkedIn bio shows she’s been executive director of the union for nearly 20 years, but does not show any law enforcement experience.

In other words, she’s not a cop. And administrative jobs at public employees’ unions are generally not paid with taxpayer dollars, though there are exceptions to this. And there will likely be some reporting into Segovia’s arrangements in the days and weeks to come.

But this has to be a huge loss of faith with San Jose residents with their first responder employees. The city is already reeling from a scandal where an on-duty fire truck was visiting strip clubs. On a county level, the Santa Clara County Sheriff was convicted in November on six counts of corruption for, among (many) other things, accepting cash and gifts for granting gun permits. Now you’ve got the head of the police union literally dealing fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, which may be just the tip of the iceberg with this scandal.  

Related: Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith Convicted On All Counts In Corruption Trial [SFist]

Image: San Jose Police Department via Facebook