LA County

LA County Sues Sheriff Over Deputy Rehire

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and a deputy fired, then rehired after a domestic violence complaint, were sued by the County Board of Supervisors and served with orders to appear at a hearing in Downtown Wednesday. 

The lawsuit was filed to try to force Villanueva to comply with an order to terminate Caren "Carl" Mandoyan, a former deputy who the Sheriff reinstated within days of taking office, saying Mandoyan's firing had been unjust because a domestic violence accuser's story was not credible.

The suit described Mandoyan's reinstatement by Villanueva as, "purported," and without legal authority, according to sources familiar with the filing. The lawsuit itself was filed under seal.

Villanueva was served with the case at home Sunday night, an official familiar with the case told NBC News.

Last week County Auditor-Controller John Naimo sent a hand-delivered letter that ordered Mandoyan to turn-in his badge and gun, saying the Sheriff did not have the legal power to reverse the termination.

Naimo said in the letter that Villanueva apparently failed to notify Mandoyan that he'd been terminated February 20.

"It is my understanding that he declined to communicate this message to you," Naimo wrote in the two-page letter obtained by NBC News and other media outlets. "Please be advised you are no longer a County employee."

Mandoyan served as a volunteer and adviser during Villanueva's campaign last year, and was on stage during Villanueva's swearing-in at East LA College.

Mandoyan's initial termination from the Sheriff's Department was finalized in May, 2018, after the County's Civil Service Commission voted 5-0 to end his employment. That followed an internal investigation of a 2016 domestic violence complaint made by a female deputy, who also alleged Mandoyan stalked and spied on her.


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According to LA County Superior Court records the female deputy applied for a temporary restraining order against Mandoyan, though it was never put in place by a judge.

Villanueva said he personally began the process to reinstate Mandoyan within days of taking office, but denied at a news conference in January the move was any type of reward for the campaign or other work.

Instead, Villanueva said, Mandoyan was just the first of many former deputies whose terminations were to be re-investigated by a so-called, "Truth and Reconciliation Commission." Days later the Sheriff told the LA County Board of Supervisors he believed the Civil Service Commission was corrupt and had unjustly fired numerous law enforcement officers.

Over the weekend Villanueva sent a statement through a spokesperson that suggested the Mandoyan matter was still under review, even though the Naimo letter said Villanueva had no authority to reopen Mandoyan's termination case.

"This personnel matter is under review and will be decided through the legal employment process," Villanueva's prepared statement said.

"While the specific facts of this case are protected under the Peace Officer Bill of Rights and civil service procedures, I can assure that an objective, honest, and fair assessment was conducted before reinstatement. We will let the process continue forward as we work to determine the final outcome," it said.

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