The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department is once again the target of a civil lawsuit, this one by two deputies who had been part of a jail gang intelligence unit.
Our Los Angeles harassment lawyers understand that the two were reportedly working with a special unit in the agency when they learned that a number of department personnel were allegedly involved in illegal gangs at the jail.
Upon their release of this information, they say they were harassed, retaliated against, and prosecuted out of malice. The deputies have filed suit against the county, the sheriff, the undersheriff, and two other members of the department.
The two plaintiffs say they had been assigned to a unit called Operation Safe Jails. This unit was responsible for getting inmates to become informants, in a broader effort to curb violence between the many rival gangs that thrive inside jails.
In the course of their work, the deputies allegedly learned that at the Men's Central Jail in downtown L.A., another deputy was reportedly working closely with a gang member belonging to a white supremacist group, while a custody assistant was working with another prison gang. In effect, these employees had allegedly become powerful agents in assisting these gangs in meeting some of their end goals.
In the case of the custody assistant, a lieutenant turned over the case for investigation. An employee recently pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe in exchange for smuggling cocaine inside the jail.
However, the evidence turned over against the deputy reportedly fell on deaf ears. The lieutenant declined to pursue an investigation, instead allegedly presenting the deputy in question with the memo written by the two investigating deputies.
The goal, the plaintiffs say, was not only to intimidate them in order to prevent further investigations along those lines, but also to allow the subject of the investigation time to cover up any illegal actions.
From that point on, the two plaintiffs say they suffered harassment and threats from other deputies. One of the plaintiffs had received a DUI, and the dash camera video was posted online. Additionally, that DUI charge was boosted from a misdemeanor to a felony, allegedly without cause.
The mistreatment they suffered went beyond even harassment and malicious prosecution, they say. The lives of one of their key informants was purposely endangered, they said, after he was moved without cause from protective custody into the general population, where it was well-known he would be vulnerable to serious attack.
The plaintiffs claim that high-ranking officials within the agency, including the sheriff, blatantly ignored the safety concerns they raised, dismissed their warnings about deputies pairing up with jail gang members, and attempted to circumvent an investigation initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
The lawsuit claimed that the agency took exceptional measures to hide a certain inmate from the FBI, which sought to question him in the case of the deputy alleged to be associated with the white supremacist group.
The deputies said their own lives were threatened, and they were called "snitches" and "race traitors." They accuse both the lieutenant and the undersheriff of being a part of a gang called the Vikings, which was allegedly a racist police gang that was an extension of the prison gang. Members of the law enforcement gang reportedly had the gang's symbol tattooed somewhere on their bodies.
The two plaintiffs are seeking compensation in the form of penalties and damages, including lost and future wages.
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