OAKLAND -- On the night before disgraced Oakland police Officer Frank Vazquez disappeared in November 2000, he called attorney Michael Rains in a rage.

In a profanity-laced tirade, Vazquez said he feared his fate as one of the four Oakland cops caught up in the infamous police brutality case known as the Riders.

"They're not going to give us a fair trial," Rains remembers Vazquez screaming into the phone. "I'm not going to rot in prison."

Twelve years later, Vazquez is still on the run, an enduring symbol of Oakland's decadelong failure to fix a Police Department ripped apart by the Riders scandal.

But the city might be able to start moving on, now that U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson on Wednesday approved a major reform plan for the Police Department with an unprecedented level of federal oversight.

While Vazquez is still a fugitive, the other officers at the center of the Riders case have been trying for years to move on. One is a police officer in Southern California. A second headed to the Middle East and became a private security contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan. A third is an investigator in the Bay Area with a security company.

"My life didn't turn out the way I planned it, but whose does?" said Matthew Hornung, the only defendant to be acquitted of all charges, who now works for Monument Security, a large national security firm.

Despite Vazquez's fears, not one of his fellow officers was convicted in the high-profile criminal case that portrayed the group as rogue cops who terrorized West Oakland, beating suspects, planting drugs, falsely arresting them and making up police reports in a quest to clean up drug-infested neighborhoods.

The city settled a class-action lawsuit by paying out $11 million to 119 people who claimed they were brutalized by police, but Hornung also received a $1.5 million settlement from the city for wrongful termination.

"I'm sad about things," said Hornung, who has two daughters, ages 6 and 8, with his wife, who is an Oakland police detective. "I wanted to be a cop since I was in sixth grade, I wanted to be OPD."

Proud but disappointed

Keith Batt, the rookie police officer who in 2000 blew the whistle on the men who came to be known as "the band of rogue officers" was celebrated as a hero and went on to become a decorated police officer. But he still feels the sting of being ostracized and intimidated by people he once believed in.

He, too, left his job and sued the city for emotional distress, receiving $625,000, and then went to work as a detective for the Pleasanton Police Department. Today he lives in a gated community far from Oakland with his wife and infant daughter.

"I'm proud of the decisions I made," Batt said recently in his first interview since the Riders case surfaced. "I am disappointed that all of the reforms outlined in the negotiated settlement agreement have not been implemented after so many years, but am glad that the issue of police accountability is not forgotten."

Still enforcing law

Years after facing accusations in the Riders trial, Clarence "Chuck" Mabanag, a San Francisco native, left the Bay Area for Southern California, where he was hired by the Indio Police Department. Mabanag was acquitted of several charges in each of two Riders trials, but the jury hung on others, including one charge of writing a false police report.

Another officer cleared in the Riders case, Jude Siapno, went to the Middle East as a security consultant for a large U.S. defense contractor. He has spent the past decade in and out of war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan doing the same work.

His lawyer, William Rapoport, said Siapno, who moved from the Philippines to Oakland when he was 8, speaks seven languages fluently, including two Arabic dialects, and is a keen student of "religion, history and world politics."

In his time off he has traveled to 61 countries, gone trekking in the mountains and traveled widely, according to Rains and others.

On the lam

In July 2000, the same month that Batt filed his initial report with Oakland's Internal Affairs department, Vazquez signed over power of attorney to his wife, Pilar, according to court documents. He traveled briefly to his native Mexico, Rains said, perhaps to his home district of Merida.

Then he came back to Oakland. He began showing up on Mabanag's doorstep on a regular basis, crying, angry and close to what Rains describes as "hysteria."

Four months later, Vazquez called Rains one last time. After ranting for a long time, he finally said, "I'll see you around."

The day after that phone call, Vazquez fled his home, his family, his job and the three other officers who had been charged alongside him. He was 44 at the time.

His case remains open with the FBI, who declined to comment for this article because the investigation is ongoing.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office says it is "prepared to pursue any and all charges against Frank Vazquez" -- who skipped out on $194,500 bail -- if he is found.

In one sense, the Oakland department has started to put the Riders case behind it. But as long as Vazquez remains a fugitive, the city's biggest police scandal will remain an open case.

"Was Vazquez a dirty cop?" Rains said. "I think Frank put probable cause out to its outer limits, possibly crossed over, did things that shouldn't have happened."

12 years AFTER THE RIDERS
Who were the Riders? Matthew Hornung, Frank Vazquez, Clarence Mabanag and Jude Siapno -- four Oakland police officers charged in 2000 but never convicted of a multitude of police misconduct felony charges.
What happened to the case: Vazquez fled the country and remains a fugitive. None of the other three officers was convicted, but the city paid $11 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging police abuse.
What happened Wednesday: U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson approved a reform plan stemming from the Riders case that includes federal oversight of the Oakland Police Department.