Former Commander of the Pacific Grove Police Department Pleaded Guilty to Extortion and Wire Fraud
SAN JOSE—John Nyunt pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to extortion and wire fraud, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.
In pleading guilty, Nyunt admitted that he obtained property from a victim who came to the police department to report a crime. Specifically, Nyunt told the victim that the police department would not investigate her complaint that she was the victim of electronic surveillance and stalking. Instead of taking official action, Nyunt instructed the victim to seek the assistance of a private investigative agency. Nyunt ran said investigative agency with the assistance of another person. Upon receiving the request for assistance at his investigative agency, Nyunt and his accomplice pretended to investigate the victim’s complaint and also pretended to provide the victim with security in the form of off-duty police officers, neither of which was true. The victim paid Nyunt and his accomplice $10,000 for their purported services.
Nyunt also admitted that he instructed another Pacific Grove police officer not to make an official investigation of the victim’s complaint and rather to give Nyunt any evidence provided by the victim. Nyunt maintained a file of this evidence without the knowledge of the police department. When the victim could make no further payments for the services of the investigative agency, Nyunt told her falsely that the police department and the FBI would continue to investigate her complaint.
Furthermore, Nyunt admitted that he gave his accomplice his departmental password, and access, to a commercial database intended for the sole use of law enforcement. He did so without the authorization or knowledge of the police department in order that his accomplice could obtain financial and personal information belonging to various other people. With Nyunt’s knowledge, his accomplice presented herself falsely as an authorized departmental user of the commercial database and did, in fact, obtain financial and personal information belonging to various people. Nyunt concealed this wrongful use from the department in part by making false statements to department officials.
On April 24, 2014, Nyunt pleaded guilty in state court in Monterey County to one count of dissuading a person from reporting a crime by threats of violence, one count of being an accessory after the fact to theft and burglary, and one count of being an accomplice to the burglary of a business, all felonies, and received a sentence of three years’ imprisonment. Nyunt is currently being held in federal custody.
Nyunt, 51, was charged by information on April 24, 2014, with one count of extortion, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951, and one count of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. Under the plea agreement, Nyunt pleaded guilty to both counts.
Nyunt’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 2, 2014, at 9:00 a.m., before the Honorable Beth L. Freeman, United States District Court Judge, in San Jose. The maximum statutory penalty for each count in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1951 and 1343 is 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution. Pursuant to the binding plea agreement, if accepted by the court, the parties have agreed that the defendant should be sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, to run concurrent with his state sentence. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Philip A. Guentert is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elise Etter. This investigation was conducted jointly by the FBI and investigators from the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.