Accused Fake Cop Convicted in Sex Case

  • by Seth Hemmelgarn
  • Saturday February 14, 2015
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A San Francisco jury has convicted a man accused of being a fake cop of most of the dozens of counts against him, including unlawful sodomy, unlawful oral copulation, and oral copulation by use of an intoxicating substance.

Jurors also agreed that Jeffrey Bugai, 36, of San Francisco, had attempted to orally copulate one victim "by threat of the use of official authority," but found him not guilty of impersonating a public officer in at least one other count. The jury hung on a charge that Bugai had kidnapped one of his victims.

In a news release shortly after jurors announced their verdicts Wednesday, February 4, Max Szabo, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, said all of Bugai's victims had been undocumented immigrants.

"The facts of this case highlight why we desperately need immigration reform," stated District Attorney George Gascon. "When victims are afraid to come forward and cooperate with authorities because of their immigration status the whole community suffers. Had some of the undocumented victims come forward earlier, authorities could have intervened and prevented others from being victimized by this predator."

Bugai, who faces life in prison and is set to be sentenced March 6, victimized five men between January 2008 and the end of March 2014, Szabo said. There had been six alleged victims, including one man Bugai was accused of extorting.

As the verdicts were read Wednesday in superior court before retired Judge Jerome Benson, Bugai showed no obvious emotion.

In a highly unusual move last week, Bugai took the stand - days after attorneys had given their closing arguments and jurors started deliberating.

Jay Cunningham, 54, who served as the jury foreman, said in a recent interview that when jurors found out Bugai would be testifying, "We were all very excited to hear from him."

However, said Cunningham, who's gay, Bugai "did not help himself" with his testimony, "and he basically solidified some of our thinking about him."

He said the defendant's "tone and demeanor" on the stand "was reflective of what we had heard about in terms of [him] having a very short fuse."

Jurors who spoke with the Bay Area Reporter also pointed to the credibility of most of the witnesses, including the victims.

Kathy Spangler, 64, said one man's testimony "haunted me for a weekend. It was that compelling."

Assistant District Attorney Sharon Reardon prosecuted the case. Deputy Public Defender Phoenix Streets represented Bugai.

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

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