FRESNO, Calif. — The former second-in-command of a California city police department says he was working “deep undercover” when he was recorded talking about buying marijuana, his lawyer told jurors at the start of a federal criminal trial.

The Fresno Bee reported (https://tinyurl.com/ldbssfb ) Wednesday that wiretaps also recorded Fresno’s former deputy Police Chief Keith Foster contemplating the purchase of heroin and prescription painkillers.

Foster, 53, has pleaded not guilty to charges of distributing oxycodone, heroin and marijuana. The paper reported Foster turned down a deal to plead guilty in exchange for a nearly 4-year prison term. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison if convicted.

The paper reported that Foster’s contact with drug dealing suspects was done without his supervisor’s knowledge. Foster’s attorney told jurors his client was responding to an order to determine whether heroin was causing problems in Fresno.

Five other people involved it the investigation, including two of Foster’s nephews, have all pleaded guilty to drug-related charges.

The case began with a federal investigation of Foster’s nephew Dennis Foster, who was suspected of dealing drugs. The focus of the investigation shifted when investigators listened to the deputy chief call his nephew and discuss drugs.

The former police officer said he was trying to recruit his nephew as an informant.

“Keith Foster isn’t guilty of anything,” said E. Marshall Hodgkins, the suspect’s attorney. “He’s not the kind of person who would do this.”

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