Fresno police chief placed on leave over alleged affair with officer's wife

The city of Fresno placed its police chief on paid administrative leave Wednesday as it continued an investigation into an inappropriate relationship that he allegedly had with an officer's wife.

“In light of the intense public scrutiny surrounding the administrative investigation and in the best interest of all parties involved, Chief Paco Balderrama will be placed on paid administrative leave,” City Manager Georgeanne White said in an email to the Fresno Police Department.

City officials confirmed the authenticity of the email to The Times.

Standing outside of the council chambers on Wednesday, Balderrama, who has been police chief for a little more than three years, told reporters he could not speak about the investigation.

“This is the most difficult time in my life and in my family's life,” he said. “So I do ask for a little bit of grace. I do ask for a little bit of forgiveness.”

He told reporters not to ask any salacious questions for “click bait.”

“It’s just not worth it,” he said, adding that if he wasn’t police chief the story would not receive coverage.

“But I am the police chief and you can cast stones,” he said, pointing to a reporter. “Even though you’re imperfect as well.”

The temporary suspension comes four months after the city released a written statement in February indicating that the chief had informed the mayor and city manager that “an allegation would likely be made against him related to an inappropriate off-duty relationship he was involved in.”

Deputy Chief Mindy Casto will take over the chief's operational duties while he's on leave.

The city previously announced that it had launched an investigation into the allegation and that Balderrama would continue to serve as the police chief.

But that changed this week after the San Joaquin Valley Sun revealed that the investigation centered on a two-year affair the chief had with the wife of an officer. The newspaper reported that the chief used his position to undermine the officer’s career moves that would have freed his weekends, which would have interfered with the affair.

The officer, who was not identified, said in a statement to the newspaper that the affair had started in August 2021 and, upon discovery, had ended during the holidays in late 2023.

City officials declined to comment further about the investigation.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.