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Fresno Police Accused of Stealing $101,000

FRESNO, Calif. (CN) - Fresno police stole valuable coins and more than $100,000 from two businessmen while serving a search warrant to investigate an alleged illegal gambling ring, the businessmen claim in court.

Micah Jessop and Brittan Ashjian, who own numerous ATMs in California's Central Valley, sued the city of Fresno and 10 officers, including Derik Kumagai, a former detective who pleaded guilty last week to extorting money from a drug dealer.

Jessop and Ashjian say Fresno police had been conducting surveillance on them for six months and knew that they kept large sums of cash at their business and homes, to restock their ATMs.

On Sept. 10, 2013, the officers, led by Kumagai, raided the men's homes and business with a search warrant alleging that Jessop and Ashjian were selling illegal coin-operated gambling devices, according to the complaint.

The men say police seized $131,000 from their business, and that an additional $20,000 in cash and $125,000 worth of rare coins were taken from Jessop's home.

When the men and their counsel went to the Fresno Police Department the next day, only $50,000 in currency had been submitted as evidence, the complaint states.

Jessop and Ashjian, who were never charged with any crimes, say they were told that this was the only money seized during the raid and that no coins were taken from Jessop's home.

"The theft of the currency and coins was unlawful and unjustified, and plaintiffs were provided with no means of redress or procedure whereby they could dispute said deprivation, especially since defendants denied even taking all of plaintiffs' property," the complaint states.

Jessop and Brittan seek compensatory and punitive damages.

In March 2014, Kumagai was federally indicted for accepting a $20,000 bribe from a person was being investigated for marijuana trafficking, according to contemporary news reports.

Kumagai pleaded guilty on Feb. 23 to conspiracy to commit bribery.

He faces up to 5 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 at his May 4 sentencing.

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