The middle man, Noel Carter, has admitted his role in the drug ring involving dishonest sheriff’s deputies and corrupt Bakersfield police officers who raided evidence lockers in both departments. Transcripts from the Kern County Grand Jury proceedings paint a clearer picture of how it all unfolded.
Four years ago on a hot summer evening in Bakersfield, three narcotics officers got together for beer and barbecue. What they cooked up that night was a raid on the sheriff’s department evidence locker. That’s the picture painted by Kern County Deputy District Attorney Garrett Rice as he won indictments against two of the deputies.
Lt. Bill Starr, who was their supervisor at the time, sent a news release in September 2014 on the massive bust — 140 pounds of processed marijuana and 3,770 plants. Starr said the drugs had a potential value of $15 million.
Investigators said at least 34 pounds of that marijuana, worth about $34,000, made it back onto the streets of Bakersfield — thanks to former sheriff’s deputies Logan August, 32, and Derrick Penney, 36.
August is also accused of stealing an additional 357 lbs. of processed marijuana from KCSO’s evidence room in March 2015. That marijuana had been confiscated from three separate drug busts. Investigators said August falsified reports on the raids and Penney signed off on them.
But the deputies didn’t act alone. Court records show not everyone involved in the corruption has been publicly identified.
In a news conference Sept. 11, Sheriff Donny Younblood said, “We will not stop until we are sure that we have everyone that was involved in this and so, are we through? Probably not.”
According to court documents, August’s confidential informant, allegedly sold some of the stolen drugs, but he hasn’t been charged or named. However, 17 News discovered he owned a pot shop.
Local businessman Noel Carter, 45, has been indicted on charges of conspiring to sell drugs from both the Bakersfield Police Department and Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators said Carter used his offices at the Bank of America building, right across the street from the courthouse downtown as a drop off point for drugs and money.
Carter agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to sell drugs and five counts of bank fraud. In exchange, two other charges will be dismissed. According to the plea agreement filed last week, Carter admitted to selling at least 20 lbs. of meth for former BPD officers Damacio Diaz and Patrick Mara. He also admitted to embezzling $70,251 from his employer by depositing 87 business checks into his personal account.
Although the initial indictment accused Carter of also swapped cash and contraband for August and Penney, there’s not mention of it in the plea. According to court documents, prosecutors will recommend a minimal sentence for Carter in exchange for information. Sentencing is scheduled Oct. 22.
August and Penney are out on bail. They’re due in court in December.
Starr has been on administrative leave since May 2017, pending the investigation.