Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017
 

Fake cop trial goes to jury

NEWS


s.hemmelgarn@ebar.com

Jeffrey BugaiPhoto: Courtesy SFPD
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The trial of a San Francisco man accused of pretending to be a police officer and forcing other men to engage in sexual acts with him went to the jury this week after prosecution and defense attorneys presented their closing arguments.

Jeffrey Bugai, 36, faces more than two-dozen counts, including accusations of impersonating a public officer, forcible oral copulation, and unlawful administration of a drug. There are six alleged victims.

Retired Superior Court Judge Jerome T. Benson explained instructions to jurors Wednesday morning, January 28, just before attorneys from both sides were set to make their closing arguments and shortly before the Bay Area Reporter went to press.

During the preliminary hearing in October, one alleged victim, identified in court as Luis R., who wept during his testimony, said that in late 2008 Bugai had handcuffed him and a friend after meeting them at El Trebol, 3149 22nd Street, in the Mission district, and taken them to an apartment after saying he was a cop.

Luis testified that Bugai eventually "threw me to the ground," told him, "all illegals are weaklings and they shouldn't be here," and touched Luis' penis through his pants as he tried to pull Luis' pants down. He said he'd fled the apartment after hitting Bugai with a ratchet.

In superior court January 8, Deputy Public Defender Phoenix Streets picked apart details that Luis had offered.

During one exchange, Streets asked Luis about an alleged struggle he'd had on the floor with Bugai. Streets reminded Luis that at one point he'd said he'd been on the floor for 20 to 30 minutes, then asked him whether he'd said during a visit to the district attorney's office that he'd been on the floor for an hour and a half.

"No, I don't remember having said how long," Luis responded.

Luis went to police in November 2013 after seeing Bugai outside a bank. The other men came forward following media coverage of his report.

The alleged incidents occurred from January 2008 through March 2014, according to the complaint prosecutors filed against Bugai in September 2014.

Police have said Bugai targeted Central American immigrants with "limited English speaking" skills who had recently arrived in the United States.

The men who testified against Bugai during his preliminary hearing said they believed Bugai was a cop, and some said after he took them to his apartment, he made them drink something they suspect was drugged. Most of the men also said they had been drinking before they went to the apartment with Bugai. All of the men, who appeared to be in their late 20s to early 30s, spoke through Spanish interpreters.

According to court documents and testimony, Bugai often dressed like a police officer and drove a vehicle that resembled a police patrol car.

Another alleged victim who testified during the trial has been identified in court as Miguel M. Miguel was 26 when he testified in October that he met Bugai at El Trebol around December 31, 2007. He got into a cab with Bugai, thinking he was getting a ride home.

Miguel said when they got to the apartment, Bugai gave him a glass of what looked and tasted like water, but after that, he testified, "I did not know anything anymore until I had him on top of me without any clothes."

Bugai was performing oral sex on him, Miguel told the court, and Bugai soon took Miguel's penis and penetrated himself with it, he said.

He said he unsuccessfully tried to push him away and told him "No" during the incident, but "I had no strength."

Bugai, who's been in custody since his July arrest, didn't testify during the trial, in which opening statements were given January 6. His bail is $3 million.

Nine of the jurors are men; three are women.

According to court records, Bugai changed his name to Jeffrey Thomas in 2011.






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