San Jose police union fires alleged drug smuggler
Joanne Segovia walks away from the federal courthouse in San Jose on March 31, 2023 with her attorney, Will Edelman. Segovia, an office manager for the San Jose Police Officers' Association, is being charged by federal authorities with attempting to illegally import a form of the opioid fentanyl. Photo by Joseph Geha.

    The San Jose Police Officers’ Association fired its top administrator after she was hit with a list of international drug smuggling allegations from federal prosecutors in late March.

    The association, which serves as the union for San Jose Police Department officers, said Friday it had terminated Joanne Segovia, a 20-year employee and the organization’s executive director.

    Segovia was charged with illegally attempting to import a form of fentanyl, and is accused of using her home and work computers and her work email address to help coordinate the logistics of ordering and shipping thousands of illicit opioids and other drugs over a period of several years.

    “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,” Sean Pritchard, the police union president, said in a statement.

    The firing came at the completion of the first phase of an internal investigation into Segovia. The organization will hire its own investigator to look into Segovia’s alleged actions, to what extent she utilized police union resources and if existing internal controls could have identified what she’s accused of doing.

    Pritchard said the outside investigator, who will be announced at a later date, will conduct a “no-holds-barred examination of our operations.”

    Pritchard told San José Spotlight the first phase of the investigation was conducted by the organization’s executive board, including Pritchard, as well as Vice President Steve Slack, and CFO Dave Wilson, all veteran police officers.

    The association is looking for someone with an “indisputable” record to do the next phase of the investigation, he said.

    “Really focusing on is there something that we could have had in place previously that would have identified this type of behavior. If so, what is it? And then making sure we implement that immediately,” Pritchard said.

    In prior interviews with San José Spotlight, Tom Saggau, a police union spokesperson, said there was no suspicious behavior by Segovia, and no reason to look into her activities at the union. He said there were no “internal controls” that could have caught her alleged behavior sooner.

    “We had no indication and the outrageousness of what was alleged is supportive of that,” Saggau said.

    Police critics and community groups have said they find it hard to believe an organization comprised of cops didn’t know about a yearslong criminal enterprise running at least in part out of its offices for several years.

    At a rally Wednesday, several community organizations called for independent investigations of the association, and demanded elected officials refuse support from the union going forward.

    Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter.

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