SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — The San Jose Police Officers’ Association fired its executive director in the wake of a drug smuggling scandal, union officials told KRON4 Friday.
Joanne Marian Segovia, 64, was accused by federal prosecutors last week of illegally importing synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, to her San Jose home.
Segovia is charged with an attempt to unlawfully import valeryl fentanyl. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
According to the Office of the United States Attorney, Segovia ordered thousands of opioids, used the police officers union’s address for some mailing transactions, and re-distributed drugs across the country.
The San Jose Police Officers’ Association announced Friday that it completed the first phase of its internal investigation into Segovia and terminated her employment.
Before the scandal broke, Segovia was known as the “grandma of the POA.”
Union president Sean Pritchard said, “The abhorrent criminal conduct alleged against Ms. Segovia must be the impetus to ensuring our internal controls at the POA are strong and that we enact any changes that could have identified the alleged conduct sooner.”
During her first court appearance on March 31, a judge ordered Segovia to undergo drug testing, enter drug abuse treatment, and surrender her passport. She did not enter a plea.
A federal criminal complaint states that Segovia used her personal and office computers to order the drugs between October 2015 and January 2023, including fentanyl. At least 61 shipments were mailed to her home from countries including Hong Kong, Hungary, and India, investigators said.
Segovia worked for the SJPOA for two decades as a civilian employee. The city’s mayor said, “It’s a slap in the face to our police officers. I’m glad she’s going to be held accountable.”
The union is currently hiring an independent outside investigator to dig into Segovia’s activities and the union’s protocols. Union officials said they want to know how Segovia utilized POA resources and determine if current internal controls could have identified the alleged behavior.
Pritchard said, “The independent outside investigator will conduct a no-holds-barred examination of our operations and will get the full cooperation from the POA.” The investigation will include: 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.
Packages mailed to Segovia’s home had innocuous labels, such as “Wedding Party Favors,” “Chocolate and Sweets” and “Gift Makeup,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Between July 2019 and January 2023, officials intercepted and opened five of these shipments and found that they contained thousands of pills of controlled substances, including the synthetic opioids Tramadol and Tapentadol, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
When Segovia was questioned by Homeland Security agents on February 1, she refused to show agents her CashApp transaction history, court documents state.
Prosecutors wrote, “Segovia continued to order controlled substances even after being interviewed by federal investigators in February 2023. On March 13, 2023, federal agents seized a parcel in Kentucky, containing valeryl fentanyl, addressed to Segovia. The package allegedly originated from China on March 10, 2023 and declared its contents as a ‘clock.'”
When she was interrogated again on March 14, she blamed the orders on her housekeeper, and claimed the woman suffered from a substance abuse disorder.
Segovia later granted investigators access to her WhatsApp account. Hundreds of WhatsApp messages referred to “soma” and “orange pills,” court documents show. Segovia gave “inconsistent statements” when agents asked her if the housekeeper had access to Segovia’s phone.
Investigators said they determined that Segovia used encrypted WhatsApp communications to plan the logistics for receiving and sending pill shipments.
Segovia declined to answer questions from TV news reporters after her court appearance last week. Her defense attorney said, “No comment.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Tartakovsky is prosecuting the case.