A former South Lake Tahoe police officer was sentenced to 18 months in prison today for obstructing an official proceeding, according to authorities.
John Gerald Poland, 45, pleaded guilty to the charge in federal court in May. Today, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller handed down the sentence. Poland was ordered to surrender himself to the Bureau of Prisons on Nov. 6.
In June 2011, Poland persuaded a South Lake Tahoe gang member's girlfriend to conceal and destroy evidence, interfering with a federal investigation of that gang member. In October and November of that year, Poland tampered with this witness in an investigation into his conduct and the conduct of the gang member, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
"Mr. Poland ended his career in law enforcement by abusing his position of trust at every turn," U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner was quoted as saying in the news release. "When faced with the consequences of his misdeeds, he then attempted to influence witnesses who were called to testify against him. Such behavior cannot be tolerated. Mr. Poland stands in contrast to the other outstanding men and women in law enforcement who conduct themselves with dedication and honor every single day."
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the South Lake Tahoe Police Department and the state's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rodriguez.