Chris De Benedetti, 5/24/11
Jason William Fredriksson, the San Leandro narcotics detective charged last week with giving marijuana to a confidential informant for her to sell, made an obviously bad decision when the married officer started a sexual relationship with the woman, his attorney said Monday.
But while he certainly broke his marriage vows, Fredriksson is not guilty of the felony charge filed against him, said Harry Stern, the embattled police detective’s lawyer.
“Like so many people in prominent positions, he made an indiscreet decision,” Stern said. “My understanding is that the evidence is completely circumstantial, and that the marijuana was recovered from the informant, not him. I doubt they have much to show that it came from Officer Fredriksson.”
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office charged Fredriksson on Thursday with one count of transporting and furnishing marijuana for sale.
Fredriksson, 38, pleaded not guilty at the Hayward Hall of Justice after he surrendered to authorities Friday on a $50,000 arrest warrant.
He was released on $40,000 bail the same day, an amount that was lowered over the prosecutor’s objection, District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said.
The bail amount was decreased because Fredriksson had volunteered himself to authorities, had no prior record and is facing just a single charge, Stern said.
He has been under criminal investigation since March 18, when a San Leandro resident told police Chief Sandra Spagnoli that Fredriksson had provided more than one pound of marijuana to the female confidential informant for her to sell.
That informant is the same woman with whom Fredriksson had an extramarital affair, Stern said.
On March 23, authorities searched Fredriksson’s Danville home and found items that supported the marijuana-related charge filed against him, Spagnoli said Friday.
Authorities are investigating whether the marijuana given to the informant once was evidence or if it might have been taken from the police department’s lab.
Meanwhile, the department has launched an internal investigation into the case. Fredriksson and his wife, Sheryll Fredriksson — a San Leandro police dispatcher who has not been charged — have been placed on administrative leave until the investigation is completed.
“I surmise that they placed her on leave just as a precaution,” Stern said. “Because they are conducting an investigation at that same police department, I think placing her on leave is due to the fact that it would be uncomfortable, to say the least, to have her present, rather than due to any actual misconduct by her.”
Fredriksson, a police detective in San Leandro’s vice/narcotics unit since 2008, has been an officer for nine years. From 2000 to 2002, he also was an Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy.
Stern said his client, a Contra Costa County resident, is not at all tied to similar charges recently filed against several Contra Costa County narcotics officers.
“This case involves a quantity of marijuana and an informant and nothing else,” he said. “He doesn’t have any connection to anybody else.”
Spagnoli, San Leandro’s police chief since November, said in a statement that the department “will not tolerate and deplores” any misconduct like that of the charge filed against Fredriksson.
Her office Monday declined to comment further on the case.
“Police Chief Spagnoli and the police department have handled the investigation in a professional manner,” Mayor Stephen Cassidy said, “and reaffirmed that any criminal or unethical behavior by those we entrust to serve and protect our community will not be tolerated.”