Two married San Diego Police Department officers busted in a drug investigation were officially charged Thursday with unlawfully selling and administering hydrocodone, according to a criminal complaint filed in court.
SDPD officers Bryce Charpentier, 32, and Jennifer Charpentier, 41, were charged with two felonies each, one for selling and furnishing a controlled narcotic substance and another for possession of firearm by a felon or addict.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges, and deny the accusations.
The complaint accused Bryce of selling, furnishing, administering or giving away hydrocodone on or around June 5. Prosecutors also alleged that at the time of that drug transaction, he was armed with a Sig Sauer P229, which added to his charge.
It is unclear whether that firearm were a department-issued weapon.
The complaint charged Jennifer with the same, alleging she sold hydrocodone on or around June 4.
The complaint alleges that the defendants are addicted to opiates, and Deputy District Attorney Matthew Tag said he expects evidence in this case to support that accusation.
Tag said the husband and wife had a substantial amount of hydrocodone in their possession and completed at least two transactions within a matter of hours.
“[They had] enough hydrocodone to sell or market – it’s not a couple pills,” said Tag. “They were being handed over to other people. They were furnishing – providing the medication to others in San Diego County.”
The prosecutor would not discuss further specifics of the case but said he was confident he could prove his arguments beyond a reasonable doubt.
Tag said the district attorney's office will treat the Charpentiers "just like anyone charged with these crimes," no matter their high-profile professions or the publicity surrounding this case.
"Lady Justice is blind," he added.
If convicted, Bryce faces a maximum of six years and eight months behind bars, while Jennifer faces a maximum of five years and eight months in prison.
The husband and wife are set to appear in court again for a readiness hearing on July 24 and on August 14 for a preliminary hearing.
Bryce, a six-year veteran of the department who works with the Mid-City Division, and Jennifer, an 18-year SDPD veteran, were arrested on June 5 in 4S Ranch and in the East County as part of a narcotics investigation led by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. They both bailed out of jail that same night.
In two exclusive interviews with NBC 7 on June 6, Jennifer said she and her husband were completely “caught off guard” by the drug allegations and insisted there is nothing illegal in their 4S Ranch home.
She said the deputies who arrested her and Bryce gave them very little information about what was going on or what their case was all about.
“I don't know why then we were able to be charged and arrested," she told NBC 7. "I don't understand that, 18 years of law enforcement and I can't understand that."
Jennifer said she had faith in the justice system and believed their case would “be worked out.”
“I’m thankful that in our justice system you’re innocent until proven guilty,” she said. “I want people to know that there are two sides to every story. We are definitely innocent until proven guilty."
Jennifer told NBC 7 that there’s a lot of “competition” between the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and SDPD, and she wasn’t sure if that had something to do with her arrest and her husband’s arrest.
She also said that in divorce documents, both her ex-husband and Bryce’s ex-wife accused them of abusing prescription drugs. Jennifer showed NBC 7 a doctor's letter from 2012, which explained that Bryce had been prescribed the painkiller Norco for back pain and other issues, but to the doctor's knowledge, he never abused it.
Jennifer said at one point, her husband had become sick from stopping painkillers after he had been taking them for an extended period of time. That, she believes, is why his ex-wife said he was dependent on painkillers and went through a detox.
Jennifer also denied the accusation by her ex-husband. She showed NBC 7 documents from a child custody hearing that said there were no allegations of drug abuse. Jennifer insisted there are no illegal drugs in her or her husband's home, cars or any other locations.
On Monday in family court, Jennifer lost shared custody of her two children from her previous marriage, ages 16 and 18, after a judge ruled that she is now allowed just 32 hours a week of supervised visitation, pending legal proceedings on her drug arrest.
Her ex-husband filed an emergency court order to determine temporary custody of the kids following her arrest.
“I feel terrible about it. I feel awful,” Jennifer told NBC 7. “I want the kids to be in our home. I want the kids to be in the dad’s home. I want us to have shared custody. I want us to be able to co-parent and raise the kids together.”
This case is just one of several very public scandals that have plagued the San Diego Police Department in recent months.
SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman took over the top position in the department amid these cases, which included police officers accused of sexual misconduct on the job.On June 6, despite this latest snag for SDPD, Zimmerman insisted she’s continuing to instill a culture of excellence in the department. She said the community of San Diego deserves this, and the department demands it.
Zimmerman said the Charpentiers had been placed on leave from the department from now. Jennifer confirmed they were on paid leave.
Zimmerman said she and the department are “disheartened and disappointed” and said SDPD will launch an internal investigation into the case.
"We will conduct a thorough investigation," Zimmerman said. "If it shows that any member of our department has made the terrible decision to discredit the badge, dishonor our noble profession, we don't want them working here."
Jennifer told NBC 7 last week that she feels bad these allegations have once again shined a negative spotlight on the police department, but insisted the case has nothing to do with SDPD, other than the fact that she and her husband are both officers.
“I very much apologize that anything was brought to light in reference to the police department, because there is no connection in this case, as there was in all the other cases. There’s no connection whatsoever," she said. "Nothing that I’m accused of doing or that my husband is accused of doing was ever done on duty or is in any way connected with the police department."
- NBC San Diego
First published June 13 2014, 12:11 AM