Former Kern County deputies get probation for selling seized drugs

Former Kern County deputy Logan August speaks Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, outside the federal courthouse in Fresno, Calif. August was sentenced to probation and community service for selling confiscated drugs. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Two former Kern County deputies were sentenced Monday to probation and community service for profiting from drugs that had been seized by the Sheriff's Office.

Logan August and Derrick Penney pleaded guilty in May to drug conspiracy charges. They faced maximum sentences of five years in prison.

In a candid exchange with August, Judge Lawrence O'Neill admitted he was convinced during August's plea to go against his initial judgment.

"As a judge I have to ask, 'Is this person sorry more because he got caught or because of what they did?' I'm convinced you're sorry because of what you did," he said. "When I entered the courtroom, I intended to say in this case that when an officer breaches the law, it is a prison case, not a probation case."

He proceeded to sentence August to three years of probation.

"To sentence you to prison would be telling the public they have to pay for you again," the judge said, nodding toward the cost of incarceration.

As law enforcement officers, O'Neill said August and Penney had a great deal more than freedom to lose.

"Your profession, that's gone. The pension is gone. The respect is gone," he said, adding that they'd also brought undue public shame on their families.

Speaking with reporters later outside the courthouse, August lavished praise on his wife, Tiffany, who he said worked hard to save their marriage in the face of incredible public scrutiny.

"My wife should've left me a long time ago," he said. "And in the same breath, the reason that my marriage is still here and my kids are still here by my side is because of my wife and her prayers and her sticking with me through this time."

Probation, he said, would help to keep his family intact.

"I'm just appreciative of that, because I get a second chance with my children, I get a second chance as a husband, and as a community member in Kern County," August said.

As for his 1,500 hours of public service, August said he plans to use his story as a way to reach recovering drug addicts and their families.

"I want to be a positive influence to these guys who are on probation like me, or they're dealing with some sort of conviction that's keeping them out of being with their family and just show them the little ways that they can be an impact on their kids," he said.

Penney, who the prosecutor said played a much smaller role in the wrongdoing, received the same three-year probation sentence. He was also ordered to complete 250 hours of community service.

"I haven't tried to hide any of this, I haven't tried to put this off on anybody else," he said. "This was a single bad decision that I made. I accept that, and I'm moving on from it."

Penney has moved to Idaho, where he will perform his community service hours.

Between June 2014 and October 2014, August conspired with multiple people, including Penney and former Bakersfield police detective Patrick Mara, to steal and sell marijuana that had been taken from a locked evidence facility.

August got a $15,000 cut of the sales, conducted through a former confidential informant. Penney profited $1,200, according to his signed statement of facts.

Mara, who dealt with August, and Mara's former police partner, Damacio Diaz, were sentenced to prison in a separate case for dealing confiscated methamphetamine.

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