A grand jury said Tuesday there is no evidence of a structured jailhouse informant program in scandal-wracked Orange County, and the use of snitches has been primarily to ensure inmate safety, not investigate crimes.
After an 11-month civil investigation, Orange County grand jury foreperson Carrie Carmody said the panel found a few "rogue deputies" on jail duty began to go beyond their assignments and investigate crimes.
Inadequate supervision in the district attorney's office and the Orange County Sheriff's Department has eroded the public trust, but the panel found no conspiracy, she said. The grand jury's report is titled "The Myth of the Orange County Jailhouse Informant Program."
The report comes after a judge removed the county's district attorney from the high-profile case of mass killer Scott Dekraai after finding sheriff's deputies lied or withheld evidence related to the use of jailhouse informants.
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Dekraai pleaded guilty in 2014 to killing his ex-wife and seven others in Seal Beach in 2011. But the informant issue has delayed his sentencing.
Since then, the scandal has grown, affecting a number of other criminal cases, and state and federal authorities are investigating the county's use of snitches.
The Sheriff's Department issued a statement saying it welcomed the grand jury's independent review.
"The report validates many past statements made by Sheriff Sandra Hutchens regarding the use of jailhouse informants and confirms a departmentally sanctioned program does not exist," the statement said.