A year and change after the Oakland Police Department saw its umpteenth chief ousted over an internal affairs scandal, yet another internal affairs scandal has come to light, just as newly hired Police Chief Floyd Mitchell is preparing for his first day on the job.

The latest troubles stem from the department's handling of accusations against longtime OPD homicide detective Phong Tran, who was brought up on criminal charges last August over the alleged bribing of a witness, and lying under oath.

As the Chronicle tells us today, following an original report by the blog Bleeding Edge, four other high-ranking members of the OPD are facing disciplinary action or dismissal over their handling of Tran's case, and over an apparent effort to downplay or dismiss the accusations against Tran. According to the Bleeding Edge, the OPD's internal affairs investigation cleared Tran of all wrongdoing within one month.

The new disciplinary actions stem from a probe by the Community Police Review Agency, which is the investigative arm of the Oakland Police Commission, with help from an outside law firm.

Tran has pleaded not guilty to five felony counts of perjury and bribery, stemming from a 2011 homicide trial in which a witness later came forward saying she had been paid tens of thousands of dollars by Tran to lie on the stand. Two murder convictions were thrown out as a result of the revelation, and as the East Bay Times reported, Tran "admitted to paying the woman, but claimed the amount was far less than she stated."

DA Pamela Price's office has launched an investigation to determine if other convictions might also be jeopardized because of Tran's actions or faulty detective work.

The officers facing dismissal or discipline include Deputy Chief Drennon Lindsey — who happens to be the wife of fired former chief LeRonne Armstrong — Internal Affairs Sargeant Mega Lee, Captain Kevin Kaney, and Lieutenant Hamann Nguyen. The latter two face disciplinary actions — Kaney a 20-day suspension and Nguyen a demotion. Lindsey could end up being fired from the department like her husband, and Lee was also reportedly issued a notice of the city's intent to dismiss her.

Like Armstrong before him, Mitchell has stated his priority to get the OPD's mandated federal oversight lifted after two decades. A court-appointed monitor, Robert Warshaw, has been overseeing the department ever since the Riders Scandal in 2003, in which multiple OPD officers were found to have committed various offenses in their investigations, including kidnapping and beating citizens, and planting evidence.

But subsequently the department has had a string of other scandals, including the infamous Celeste Guap sex scandal — in which an underage sex worker was linked to multiple officers — and a racist texting scandal from just three years ago.

Armstrong ended up being fired because he was accused of mishandling a different internal affairs investigation — though he was later cleared of wrongdoing by an independent reviewer.

"Every time we get close, we get a new scandal,” said Rashidah Grinage, a member of the nonprofit Coalition for Police Accountability, speaking to the Chronicle about the OPD's perennial inability to get out from under federal oversight. "There’s this pattern that appears to emerge of internal affairs investigations undermining accountability, and that leadership isn’t aware of it or doesn’t address it, and it takes an outside investigator to essentially look at it objectively."

Mitchell, 56, who previously served as chief of police in Lubbock, Texas from 2019 to 2023, will have to address this scandal as one of his first duties on the job. He is expected to have his first day as Oakland's new chief of police in early May.

Previously: Oakland Finally Names a Police Chief: Former Lubbock, Texas Police Chief Floyd Mitchell

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images