H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Jul 9, 2013 8:36 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

SLO detective takes a plea bargain in corruption case

San Luis Obispo narcotics detective Cory Pierce, pleaded guilty to extortion in federal court on Monday.

Back in February, Pierce was arrested for suspicion of drug use on the job

He's also accused of stealing drugs from police evidence lockers and selling them to dealers.

Pierce is still employed by the police department. He has been on paid administrative leave since February.

Although the case against him in court is just about wrapped up, an internal investigation has not yet been completed and until it is, Pierce will remain on the payroll.

In a 16-page plea agreement, Officer Cory Pierce admitted to abusing his power as a police officer to obtain drugs and cash for his personal use. All this while acting as a detective for the SLO Narcotics Task Force.

"Anytime there's a breach in trust, as there was in this case clearly, it gives us all a black eye," said San Luis Obispo Police Chief Steve Gesell.

Something Chief Gesell would like to see heal as quickly as possible; however, that process will not be complete until his department's own investigation is finished, something he says is on the horizon.

According to the plea agreement, in late 2011, Officer Pierce persuaded two people he had arrested for drug charges to help him in a scheme.

That scheme involved obtaining placebo pills from an out of state pharmacy and selling them to drug dealers and buyers for cash and other drugs.

According to the plea, in exchange for their help, Officer Pierce said he would make sure the charges against the two were dismissed.

After about a year, in January 2013, those same people working with Pierce began cooperating with the FBI in their investigation of Pierce.

Within weeks, Pierce ordered the two, now-secret informants, to sell hundreds of placebo pills for approximately $11,000 and they would split the profits.

Those plans soon lead to Pierce's arrest on federal extortion and bribery charges.

We left a message for Pierce's attorney, but our calls were not returned by broadcast.

Officer Pierce will most likely be fired once the administrative process is complete due to the fact he is pleading guilty to a felony which would not allow him to act in the capacity of a police officer.

He is free on bond until his sentencing date, which is set for December 9th.

As part of his plea agreement, Pierce will not face charges of bribery but faces up to 20 years in prison for extortion.

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