In a case that has embarrassed three law enforcement agencies across the Bay Area, the Richmond Police Chief is on leave after she and her husband, an Oakland police sergeant, were accused of molestation by a family member they allege was manipulated by her pimp.
Richmond Police Chief Bisa French has said goodbye after several incidents involving a close family member, an 18-year-old woman, the French and Police Sgt. Lee French, who attacked her and threatens to kill her, and the man she insists on is her partner. The partner, 34-year-old Napa-based Joe Goldman, was charged Wednesday for pimping the Frenchman’s family member. Lee French is also on OPD’s personal vacation.
Meanwhile, Vallejo police are investigating an incident involving French and her husband at Goldman’s mother’s home. And the Oakland Internal Affairs Department opened an investigation after Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams gave Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong a lead on the incident.
Court records and interviews with authorities give mixed accounts of the incidents between the French, their family members and Goldman. In a restraining order, the family member alleged that Bisa and Lee French used “police handles” to detain the family member during an argument at their home on September 21, and repeatedly threatened them with death.
“I’m worried (Bisa and Lee French) will pull off the murders,” the family member wrote in her application for a restraining order. She added that the French had both repeatedly threatened to kill Goldman and members of his family. The family member wrote that she left the encounter with a “swollen and bleeding” right hand and “small scratches”.
Meanwhile, a Bisa French attorney said the couple wanted “nothing more than to get (their family member) back and get them away from this despicable person and have made legitimate efforts to do so”.
A judge on the Contra Costa Supreme Court temporarily denied the injunction pending a hearing on October 25, stating in court records that the allegations “while grave, appear to involve complex issues that warrant a hearing”.
The injunctions were filed on October 7th. On the same day, Oakland Police obtained an arrest warrant for Goldman, who was arrested four days later by US marshals in Richmond with the assistance of the Richmond Police. On Wednesday, Alameda County prosecutors charged Goldman with pimping and favoring the French family member.
The criminal complaint claims these crimes occurred in June. It is unclear why the authorities waited almost four months to file a criminal complaint and issue the warrant. Goldman, also known as Oho McNair, has a criminal record for human trafficking, the lawsuit said.
According to the probable cause statement against Goldman, Bisa and Lee French arranged for an Oakland police officer and an FBI agent to speak to their family member. The Oakland police officer took the young woman to a friend’s house, and on the way Oakland police admitted that Goldman was their pimp. The woman denied that she was a victim of human trafficking or that Goldman had ever abused her in her application for a restraining order.
Earlier this month, the woman agreed to participate in an out-of-state “treatment program” but escaped five days later, according to Oakland Police officers. The injunction request indicates that it was written by the facility. When Goldman was arrested Monday at the 500 block of Berk Avenue in Richmond, the woman was with him, according to the likely cause.
Bisa French attorney Mike Rains told the newspaper that Goldman “graduated magna cum laude to this wonderful young woman, who is an excellent high school scholar, and turned her against her own family and frankly a criminal Prostitute who has transformed ”.
“They have not committed any crimes, they will fully cooperate with the administration and criminal investigation,” said Rains. “These allegations are simply the product of the brainwashing carried out by the terrible man who acted them. That’s what we’re dealing with. “
Meanwhile, Solano County authorities are investigating allegations that Bisa and Lee French threatened Goldman’s mother after showing up at her home in Vallejo on September 22, according to multiple law enforcement sources. The Vallejo Police Department has not yet presented the investigation to the Solano County District Attorney to determine whether or not to bring charges against the French in connection with the incident. This is expected to happen in the coming weeks, the authorities said.
Following the incident, Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams sent Armstrong, Oakland Police Chief, notices of the incidents, law enforcement sources said. An Oakland police spokesman said the department had opened an investigation into internal affairs “under investigation by Vallejo police,” but declined to comment. The spokesman said Lee French was “not privy to any part of the criminal investigation” against Goldman.
Vallejo Police did not respond to inquiries about the September 22nd incident. Williams also did not respond to the request for comment.
Bisa French, a Richmond police officer since 1998, has risen steadily in the ranks of the department. She has worked as a Public Information Officer, Assistant Chief, Captain of the Youth Services Bureau and Sergeant in the Domestic Violence Department, among others. She is in her sophomore year as a boss, having been named in July 2020 when she was both the first woman and the first black woman to ever hold the role.
So far, French’s tenure as chief has stayed away from public controversy.
Bisa French’s vacation is perpetual, according to a department-wide email from Richmond Deputy Police Chief Louie Tirona, who will serve as police chief during French’s absence. The email said French left because of “urgent family matters” and adds, “If you feel so inclined, please keep her and her family in your prayers.”
Rains said Bisa and Lee French will “cooperate fully” on administrative and criminal investigations and that they will speak publicly when the investigation is complete.