Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Alleged fake cop moves to represent himself, quickly withdraws request


Jeffrey Bugai Photo: San Francisco Police Department

In an unusual move, the San Francisco man accused of pretending to be a police officer and forcing other men to engage in sexual acts with him briefly asked to represent himself today (Friday, January 30) but quickly withdrew his motion after speaking with the judge in the case.

Jurors have been deliberating the case against Jeffrey Bugai, 36, since Thursday afternoon, shortly after the prosecution and defense attorneys finished their closing arguments.

Bugai, who’s been in custody since his July 2014 arrest, indicated to retired Superior Court Judge Jerome T. Benson that he wanted there to be more discussion about several text messages he says were between him and one of the alleged victims.

In the texts, which had been shown in court, Bugai repeatedly remarked about the victim’s “big dick,” while messages from the victim’s number asked for money.

In her closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Sharon Reardon said the responding messages had not come from the victim, referred to in court as Franklin, but from his girlfriend, who was using her boyfriend’s phone to make sure Bugai wasn’t another woman.

Referring to the messages today, Bugai, who didn’t testify during the trial, said, “Did you find that valid, or was that stupid?”

Benson didn’t pick either description, but told Bugai, “I’m asking you to consider whether you want me to rule on the motion” to represent himself “right now, or whether you want me to take a look at the information.”

After some more discussion, Bugai opted to withdraw his motion to be his own attorney. Instead, he’ll present information he thinks is compelling and give that to his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Phoenix Streets, and Benson to determine whether it warrants re-opening closing arguments.

Outside the courtroom, Streets said there are “some things [Bugai] wants highlighted that I didn’t highlight.”

That includes gaps of several months between the text messages. Reardon said those gaps help show that it was Franklin’s girlfriend, not Franklin, that responded to Bugai’s texts.

According to Streets, Bugai claims there are some messages from his phone that would have shown “there could actually have been a continuous flow” of texts, but those messages have been deleted and can’t be recovered.

Streets said, “It’s very rare for it to happen at this stage of the game” that a client would ask to represent himself, but Bugai “has a lot of anxiety right now. He’s looking at spending the rest of his life in prison if things go wrong. … My feelings are not hurt.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 30, 2015 @ 4:16 pm PST
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