SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — A local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People joined other community groups for a press conference in San Jose on Wednesday afternoon. The groups are coming together in response to the federal criminal complaint filed against a leader of a local police union.

Last week, the San Jose Police Officers Association Executive Director Joanne Segovia was charged in connection with importation of illegal opioids, including fentanyl. The complaint was released after Segovia allegedly used personal and office computers to order drugs– including fentanyl– for nearly eight years. Shipments of illegal drugs were reportedly mailed to her home from countries including Hong Kong, Hungary and India, the Department of Justice writes.

Joanne Marian Segovia
Joanne Marian Segovia

Now, community groups are asking for more accountability. The Asian Law Alliance Executive Director Richard Konda was one of the first to speak at the event. He laid out the details of the criminal complaint that has been filed against Segovia.

“How could the San Jose POA be unaware of her criminal activity?” Konda asked. The group also highlighted a few kew questions that have been left unanswered by law enforcement:

  • If the allegations are substantiated, who else was involved? Were local agencies or personnel involved, or were they in a position to be aware of the alleged crimes?
  • How was it possible for this criminal behavior to continue for so long?
  • Is there any connection to the use of illegal opioids within law enforcement agencies?

Community organizer and founder of Justice for Josiah, Laurie Valdez spoke after Konda.

“I’m very disgusted that the city leaders have been so quiet about this,” Valdez said. “There’s people dying in our streets and our communities are being criminalized for drugs…this lady has been doing it internationally? How many people have died because she brought this stuff to our community?” she asked.

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Two student groups were also present at the event, including Students for Police Accountability and Students Against Mass Incarceration. Rebeca Armendariz, a member of the Gilroy City Council was one of the last to speak. She says the community of Gilroy has been hardest hit by the fentanyl crisis.

“We have dozens of families mourning the loss of children as young as 12 years old…This is a slap in the face to all of the families working hard to find accountability to keep their families and children safe…They need their feet to be held to the fire. They cannot do this, they cannot poison our families and get away with it.” — Rebeca Armendariz

Segovia surrendered to law enforcement for her hearing on Friday. She has since been released on no bond, but she is supervised and is not allowed to travel outside of Northern California. Segovia is scheduled to be back in court on April 28.

In a statement provided to KRON4 in regards to the press conference, the San Jose POA President swung back at the NAACP in particular.

“The NAACP and Mr. Jayadev’s comments are absurd, hypocritical and are in direct contradiction to the facts made available by the U.S. Attorney. No other individual associated with the POA is involved, being investigated, or suspected by the authorities of knowing or participating in any way in this incident.  

Across the country, employees commit crimes unbeknownst to their employers. All one has to do is a simple Google search on the NAACP to see that this is true. We don’t believe that the NAACP is complicit or that it should be investigated for alleged crimes its various leaders have been accused of such as dealing cocaine in Muncie, Indiana, embezzling $194,000 in Pennsylvania, or welfare fraud in Spokane, Washington. Is Mr. Jayadev prepared to accept full responsibility and liability for criminal acts his employees may be charged with in the future if he didn’t know about them? We’d be surprised; the proposition is ludicrous.

The San Jose POA has cooperated fully with federal authorities in their investigation, and that cooperation is ongoing. In addition, the San Jose POA immediately initiated its own internal investigation of this matter as required by its policies and law, which means we are not permitted to share those results publicly.”Sean Pritchard, President, San Jose Police Officers’ Association