City, DA Defer to Feds and the Police Union to Continue Fentanyl Probe

This story has been updated to include the mayor's call for an independent investigation.

As Homeland Security investigators continue their probe of an international drug smuggling scheme operated out of the office of the San Jose police union, the union announced April 7 that it will conduct its own independent “no-holds-barred” investigation.

The San Jose Police Officers Association announced that it had fired its former executive director, Joanne Segovia, and said it will hire “an independent outside investigator to conduct a comprehensive internal investigation” into Segovia’s actions that led to federal felony drug smuggling charges against her.

One day after the union announcement, San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata said on Twitter there would be no internal departmental investigation of possible police officer involvement in illegal activities at the 1,100-member union, while stating that his department was ready to fully cooperate with federal authorities, if asked.

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan also has called for an independent investigation of the union, in light of the charges against Segovia: “In addition to the ongoing Homeland Security criminal probe, it’s imperative that an independent entity conduct a thorough investigation to determine what, if any, internal controls or processes within the Police Officers Association could have helped prevent Segovia’s alleged crimes,” he said in media interviews. “The POA announced last Friday that they will take this path. While the city has no authority over the POA, we have a strong interest in seeing that the investigator has unrivaled integrity and that their findings are shared in full with the community.”

The day of the revelations of alleged fentanyl smuggling at the police union office, Mahan praised federal authorities for “aggressively pursuing the sources of fentanyl coming into our communities and holding drug dealers accountable.”

Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen also will not be looking at any actions by the police union, according to a spokesperson: “This an ongoing federal case.”

The statements by the police union and the police chief followed calls earlier in the week from some community leaders for an independent investigation of the activities of the police union.

The San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP on Wednesday called for “an independent, transparent, and comprehensive investigation” of the city police union “and any public agency named in association with the alleged international network over the course of the federal investigation.”

In the NAACP statement, Rev. Jethroe Moore II said, “The filing of the federal criminal complaint and related federal investigation should trigger immediate concern and reasonable actions in response by our public agencies and elected officials."

The police union initially had said it had completed its own investigation on March 27 and concluded that Segovia had acted alone, while placing her on a paid leave of absence. Then at the end of the week, it said that further investigation prompted its decision to fire its 20-year executive director.

In its April 7 statement, the police union said its investigation will examine “to what extent [Segovia] utilized POA resources and to also investigate POA operations to determine if current internal controls could have identified the alleged behavior.” The union said more details about the investigation would be released “in the coming days.”

Charges against Segovia of smuggling fentanyl in the U.S. from Asian suppliers were announced March 29 by the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Justice Department. The criminal complaint said that over an eight-year period, the 64-year-old San Jose resident bought and distributed illegal opioids from her home and office computers, sometimes even using the police union’s UPS address.

When the charges against the union executive were first revealed,Segovia union president Sean Pritchard, a 28-year San Jose police officer, said he had been assured by federal investigators that Segovia had acted alone, and, based on that, he was confident no other civilian employees or police officers were involved.

“No additional individual at the POA is involved or had prior knowledge of the alleged acts,“ the union said in a statement at the time.

The union also attempted to minimize Segovia’s role as “simply an office manager,” although the 20-year employee oversaw a $2.3 million budget and was paid an annual salary of $161,360, according to 2020 tax filings. She reported to the union board of directors, all of them current San Jose police officers.

At the union, in addition to managing membership issues, she handled millions of dollars in deposits to multiple police union political action committees that acted as major power brokers in local politics.

In its announcement, the union said its new investigation “will include, but not be limited to: the collection and expenditure of union dues; political action committee receipts and expenditures; processes, procedures and protocols of POA office operations; supervision of civilian staff; electronic and internet controls; inventory of physical assets; as well as other areas identified by the independent investigator.”

“The abhorrent criminal conduct alleged against Ms. Segovia must be the impetus to ensure our internal controls at the POA are strong and that we enact any changes that could have identified the alleged conduct sooner,” said Pritchard in the statement. “the independent outside investigator will conduct a no-holds-barred examination of our operations and will get the full cooperation from the POA,”

The union this week closed off most pages on its website to the public, limiting them to members only.

In City Hall, Mata explained his inaction by saying he “has not received any request from federal investigators to help in the investigation of actions by the executive director of the Police Officers Association.”

He also said he had not received any information that any employee of the city was suspected of any wrongdoing.

“The recent arrest of a civilian administrative employee of the san Jose Police Officers Association, a union separate from the city of San Jose government, by agents of the Department of Homeland Security has rightfully caused concern from our community that the actions of this one individual may be indicative of illegal activity or complicity by others,” Mata said in a statement.

“As chief of police, the most important thing to me is that members of this community have the highest trust and confidence in the San Jose Police Department. I have never turned away from outside scrutiny of our actions, and I have dealt with instances of misconduct by our own employees firmly and decisively.”

“We have not been asked for assistance but are prepared to assist as needed in their examination of this matter, and to bring those who should be held accountable to justice,” Mata said. “To be clear, I have not received information that any employee, sworn or professional staff, of the San Jose Police Department is suspected of wrongdoing in connection with this investigation.”

“I share the concerns of our community to see this matter fully investigated. I expect that the investigation by the Department of Homeland Security will be thorough, comprehensive, and will provide the community with the information it deserves. I will do everything in my authority to provide that confidence to our community.”


Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.


  1. I seen sjpd in the hood buying coke….real talk…why the chief scared for ..1100 officers half are prolly dirty….

  2. Please do not attempt to paint a large group with a dirty brush of one or a few lest you dirty yourself in the attempt.

  3. The are plenty of Dirty Cops in the SJPD. The Police Union has been covering up for decades.
    The Last Honest Police Of Chief of Police came from outside of San Jose, Joseph D. McNamara.

  4. It is upsetting that this person took out lives while selling and distributing her drugs over the years. Life in prison is too good for her. She didn’t do this alone and at the very least names, names.

  5. I don’t have any concrete knowledge of the entire makeup of the rank and file to comment on whether there are “plenty of Dirty Cops” (why the caps?) in SJPD, other than to say I rather doubt it, Mr. Boyce. Joe McNamara was a real cop who became chief, unlike the PC politician ass kissers who have been the vast majority of chiefs since. He was an outside hire, which made a lot of positive difference.

  6. How do the feds know Ms. Segovia has been doing this for eight years? Is she like a lot of small time criminals, who keep records? When did the investigation begin? We’ve been told the feds spoke to her a few months back. Yet she kept at it. Is she just incredibly stupid or did the feds offer her a deal so they could go farther up the food chain? Did they bust her when they finally realized this was a small operation and they weren’t gonna get any larger fish? It sounds like a small operation to me, a side job, because it’s rough to live well in SJ on a mere $161,360 plus benefits. But some in SJ wanna pump up SJ as big at something, anything, on the national stage. So they call it an international ring; and as usual, the journos all play along. “International drug smuggling scheme” sounds so much more impressive than a pill pushing Granny trying to make ends meet.

  7. Almost exactly two years ago, seven of 46 members of the San Jose Reimagined Safety Advisory Committee, established in September 2020 after the George Floyd murder in May 2020 and purportedly intended to address concerns about community safety and draft recommendations for police reform, resigned. The seven cited their lack of confidence in a presumed policing reform process that allowed the San Jose Police Department (SJPD), i.e. the members of the Police Officers Association (POA) to screen and clear any proposed reform ( In other words, the police would be policing themselves, as usual, continuing to determine their own policing policies and practices without elected civilian command and control.

    In which other organized systems of armed forces in the U.S. is it the case that those with the guns determine the policies and practices for those carrying those guns? The U.S. national armed forces are constitutionally commanded by a civilian elected leader (the U.S. president) ( The California State Guard ( is commanded by a civilian elected leader (the California governor). The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department is commanded by an elected leader (the County Sheriff), based on authority and mandates of state and local codes as developed by elected leaders ( And Santa Clara is the only city in California–and one of the few nationwide–that elects its police chief making the chief accountable to the public in some way (

    Which elected city official commands the San Jose municipal police force? The latest POA contract with the city that is available clearly states, as previous contracts have stated, that the city has the right to “direct the work force; increase, decrease or reassign the work force; hire, promote, demote; discharge or discipline for cause; or reclassify employees; provide merit increases; assign employees overtime and special work requirements, and to determine the necessity, merits, mission and organization of any service or activity of the City or any City Department Agency or Unit…the sole and absolute right to determine the nature and type of, assign, reassign, revoke assignments of or withdraw assignments of, City equipment, including motor vehicles, to or from employees during, after, or before hours of duty, without consultation or meeting and conferring with the employee affected or the San Jose Police Officers’ Association representing such employee” (, page 25). (For a peak at the new contract agreement between the city and the POA, see

    Thus, when Mayor Mahan’s claims that “the city has no authority over the POA” he is clearly gaslighting the public. It is a claim as cowardly as former Mayor Liccardo’s was in the summer of 2020 when police were engaged in excessive force against mostly peaceful demonstrators. These are conscious and intentional abdications of their power, in which they demure and defer to vested special interests–in this case the POA–who fund them and enable them.

    When District Attorney Rosen chooses not to investigate the alleged crime, in addition to the federal investigation, it is a clear abdication of responsibility to to the community. And when Chief of Police Mata declines to undertake an internal investigation, it is more than likely for the purpose of protecting wrongdoing in the club and an affront to the public’s trust. In all cases, we get an out of control, and potentially dangerous, police force and inimical policing practices.

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