Sheriff Alex Villanueva

Carl Mandoyan, the Deputy Rehired by LA County Sheriff Villanueva, Is Ordered to Turn in His Badge and Gun

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

In a letter hand-delivered on February 28, from Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller John Naimo to Caren Carl Mandoyan—the former Los Angeles County deputy who was reinstated in mid-January by Sheriff Alex Villanueva—Mandoyan was ordered to turn in his badge and gun.

“You are not authorized to serve as a county employee,” the letter said tersely.

Mandoyan was discharged from the LA County Sheriff’s Department on September 14, 2016, for allegations of domestic abuse, stalking, and spying on his ex-girlfriend, who was at the time also a deputy also working at the department.  His termination was upheld by the county’s Civil Service Commission.

Former deputy Mandoyan was reportedly a prominent presence in the new sheriff’s campaign, and also during the post-election transition period. He was also one of those most visible on the stage during the sheriff’s swearing in ceremony.

During the early weeks of the new sheriff’s tenure, Mandoyan was the first person to be re-instated by Villanueva as part of his post-election plans to launch a “Truth and Reconciliation” commission, which would review the cases of potentially wrongly terminated deputies—although at the time of Mandoyan’s reinstatement the promised commission had yet to be formed.

However, the letter from the auditor-controller, which WitnessLA has obtained, informed Mandoyan that Sheriff Villanueva “was without authority” to settle his case “on behalf of the County.”   That authority was vested solely in County Counsel and the LA County Board of Supervisors, Naimo stated.

“For that reason, your agreement with the department is void.”

And later in the letter, Naimo repeated the information in a different way, in case Mandoyan missed the point.

“As such, your reinstatement was unlawful,” he wrote


Sheriff ignores the county’s directive

One of the most surprising parts of Auditor-Controller’s message to Mandoyan came near the letter’s end, when Naimo stated that the sheriff had been informed that the former deputy’s rehiring was “unlawful” on February 20, 2019—eight days before the turn-in-your-badge-and-firearm letter was delivered to the former deputy.

But the sheriff reportedly did not act on the February 20 letter that informed him, among other things, that “all salary, payments, and other benefits” to Mandoyan would be stopped as of February 22, at 5 p.m..

Then,  in a subsequent closed-door session with the board of supervisors last Tuesday, the sheriff and the board talked further in person, at which time the supervisors reportedly reiterated the news that Mandoyan did not work for the county.

Weirdly, however,  the next day, on Wednesday, February 27, Sheriff Villanueva held a 9 a.m. press conference where he was asked by ABC 7 reporter, Miriam Hernandez, for an update on the Mandoyan case.

“The status is he remains employed by the organization,” replied Villanueva. “His case was vetted thoroughly.”

So, said Hernandez in a follow-up, then the sheriff wasn’t concerned that he’d have to fight to keep Mandoyan’s reinstatement.

“No,” Villanueva replied. “We’re not going to fight for that at all.”

(ABC 7’s Lisa Bartley, Adrienne Alpert, and Miriam Hernandez first reported the letter’s existence.)


The struggle over who has the power

Since Mandoyan’s controversial return to the LASD in January—which was to include payment of any past salary and benefits the former deputy had not received due to his firing—the issue of his reinstatement without any kind of transparent process has been the cause of escalating discord between Villanueva and the board of supervisors.

The conflict became public on the morning of Tuesday, January 29, when Villanueva showed up unannounced at the board’s weekly meeting to defend his decision to reinstate Mandoyan.  It seems he decided to attend the meeting after learning that the board was scheduled to vote a motion sponsored by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Sheila Kuehl, having to do with the rehiring of Mandoyan, which Barger and Kuehl wrote had been “the subject of serious debate and concern” because of the way Villanueva seemed to unilaterally decide to reinstate the allegedly abusive deputy, without any easily discernible process.

With the Barger/Kuel motion, the board took the unusual step of directing the county’s chief executive officer to send “a 5-signature letter” to the sheriff that, among other things, requested his reconsideration of the rehiring and a response to the board’s concerns.

Villanueva pre-empted the letter by his appearance at the public meeting, and things went downhill from there.

“Every employee of LA County is an employee of this board,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl told Villanueva after greeting him . “And it is not the case that any department head, including that of the sheriff—though you’re independently elected—can simply do anything they want after there’s been a finding by the civil service commission that uphold a termination.”

Any other department, according to Kuehl “would have to go court” in order to have such a firing overturned.

“So I really want us to be able to clarify that because none of us is so independent that we can do anything we damn well please.”

Villanueva responded by telling board that the department he inherited had “undermined the entire integrity of the civil service system” and had financially “incentivized” civil services hearing officers to rule “in favor of the county.”

(Mandoyan’s termination had been unanimously upheld by the civil service commission, an oversight body that is generally considered to tilt in the direction of deputies, not management, counter to what Mandoyan claimed to the supervisors.)

It didn’t help the supervisors’ perspective on the matter that, earlier in January, the sheriff told the LASD’s Civilian Oversight Commission (COC)  that, among the reasons he felt the charges against Mandoyan were suspect,  was the fact that female deputy involved waited a year before reporting her ex’s alleged actions, then resigned from the department before testifying at his 2017 civil service hearings. Since victims of domestic abuse often delay reporting assaults—if they report the attacks at all—because of the fear and shame they experience, this rationale did not sit well with the board at all.

(The female deputy has since left the department.)

On Sunday, WitnessLA received a statement by Sheriff Villanueva regarding the Mandoyan issue, in which he wrote as follows:

“This personnel matter is under review and will be decided through the legal employment process. 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.”


Editor’s Update 3-4-2019, 3:22 p.m:  

The County of Los Angeles and the LA County Board of Supervisors have filed what is called a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus against Sheriff Alex Villanueva regarding his reinstatement of former LASD deputy Caren Carl Mandoyan, which the board maintains is unlawful.

Mandoyan’s attorney, Greg Smith, believes otherwise. “We’re going to win this case,” he told WitnessLA, on Monday.

Villanueva was reportedly served on Sunday with an order to appear in LA County Superior Court, at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown LA on Wednesday* in front of Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff.

The County’s lawsuit was filed after the sheriff refused to carry out an order issued by the county on February 20, telling Sheriff Villanueva that his reinstatement of Carl Mandoyan was “unlawful,” and that Mandoyan must turn in his badge and his weapon. The sheriff declined to do so.

*The hearing in Superior Court that was originally to be held on Tuesday, has been rescheduled for Wednesday.

More in a separate story coming.

37 Comments

  • Rulings by the Civil Service Commission can be appealed up the appellate ladder all the way to the Supreme Court.

    Curious why this wasn’t done if the Civil Service Commission made a bad ruling.

    • The County BOS is still upset because their boy, the guy who carried their water was unseated, that being McBuckles. The rumor in the street is that McBuckles, Teran, and former deputies (conspirators) fired by our Sheriff Villanueva have formed an alliance and are conspiring to overthrow the dully elected sheriff.

      The conspirators are hoping to intimidate our sheriff Villanueva from creating the “Truth and Reconciliation” commission because through that commission the corruption and illegal acts by the conspirators will be shown. The County BOS knew about McBuckles corruption but looked the other way because it was politically correct to go after little deputies to create stats and present a fake picture of reform.

      There is too much at stake, and a lot of people are going to be exposed for what they are, criminals or incompetent. All regular commentators on this blog have personal knowledge about the people working at IAB and ICIB, although some may be good, the great, majority are mediocre and could not see a real criminal even if that criminal was in front of them. That is the main reason they gravitate toward those assignments, wondering what the real deputies are doing to catch criminals.

      There was a seasoned deputy who was thought to be a scandalous deputy at Century station. This deputy used to shake up trainees from property and money for good causes. However, the thought was he meant well, getting the criminals off the street.
      One day he was promoted and transferred to ICIB. It was baffled to learn why someone who was apparently a good street cop, yet scandalous went to ICIB. It was thought it would be good for deputies falsely accused and this scandalous deputy would do a good job investigating complaints, instead of framing deputies. It was very disappointed to learn that this scandalous deputy was the one who under the orders of Paul Tanaka framed two deputies from Century Station for a crime they did not commit. Those framed deputies eventually proved they were innocent in court, and their case showcased on this website. That scandalous deputy was promoted to the next rank and he is currently a watch commander at a patrol station, you all know who he is.

      So yes, I expect some IAB and ICIB to be shown incompetence and possibly criminal behavior, that behavior was encouraged by the McDonnell/Teran regime blessed by the BOS.

      Our Sheriff Alex Villanueva could take the easy road, delegate all this mess to “Constitutional Attorneys” and his subordinates, but Alex is not the type that gets easily intimidated. So, don’t expect Alex Villanueva to cave in that easily into the political pressure, corruption and status quo.

      Alex Villanueva has been our Sheriff for three months and the deputies doing the heavy lifting are loving him, in only three months the deputy moral is at the highest levels in recent history. The deputies with bars and stars are the ones creating the road blocks, and those are the danger because their lack of leadership and courage to do the right thing will be shown.

  • I can’t WAIT to hear AV apologists argue what an astute tactical move this was by Villanueva.

    Once again, he’s either getting horrible advice and too stupid to know HOW horrible it is, OR he’s getting good advice and too stupid to take it.

    Then, he says in an INTERVIEW and AFTER being told Mandoyan’s done, that Mandoyan’s still employed (when he WASN’T). So…is he delusional or was he lying?

    Next, he releases a nonsensical statement referring to the “Legal employment process” and says, “We will let the process continue forward as we work to determine the final outcome.” Uh….Sheriff, that’s already been DONE for you.

  • When you have the law on your side, you cite the law. When you have facts on your side, you cite the facts. When you have neither, you pound your fists on the table.

    LASD Apologist, our resident Villanueva hater, can’t wrap his mind around the fact that the supes are the ones pounding the table. It’s early in the game.

    • That’s what I was wondering…. why wasn’t the specific alleged legal authoritative sections of the County Charter and “other” laws [???] referenced in this most of serious letters to an employee of theirs, taking his livelihood. If the BOS and County Counsel identified the sections allowing them to insist on this action, where’s the sections [???] so we the public can look it up on their web page and see it [read it] for ourselves. But more importantly explaining to the employee what is happening. Guess they get to what they damn well please.

      Is this a local version of Judge Kavanugh? Are allegations sufficient to follow someone for the rest of their lives and effect all they do? I wonder how many employees of the County they would have to “fire”?

      BOS, guess we see where McD got his mentoring on treating employees.

      And Civil Service, PLEASE… Political puppets of the BOS, who if I’m not mistaken, each BOS gets to appoint [anoint] and OWN. Any political case, like this, YA, the Civil Service is making the decision…… Ya RIGHT…

  • Oh….and I suppose this puts a damper on his “truth and reconciliation committee.” Ex-Department members, many of whom, like Mandoyan, donated money to his campaign because he promised to restore them….will be left out in the cold.

    His crack transition team (the same people who gave him bad info for his press conference) no longer have to review cases if the pudgy king can’t overturn them.

  • So Happy this took place, that shows that Av don’t have the power he thinks he does. If I was him I would drop that reconciliation process. If he continues with this issue he might affect department budgets and so on provided by the board.

  • C:
    True that previous sheriffs kept personnel that should have been fired. I.E. Driving While Drunk, Domestic Violence, perjury in Federal and State Courts etc. But, I always thought that the sheriff could over ride any decision by Civil Service. Am I correct or not? Is there a time limit similar to Statue of Limitations? I don’t know. Last to report that Civil Service is “friendly” to employees could cite some stats? As my experience with Civil Service has been the opposite. But, I can report that the BOS never gets involved with reinstated employees to this extent. Reinstatement of fired employees is not new!

    I checking with other lawyers we don’t know where the BOS has “standing” in this matter. The sheriff is elected and he/she decided what happens. Of course, the BOS can mess with funds and politics but to say who the sheriff(any sheriff) can hire, fire or reinstate where’s the legal standing? I know that the sheriff can reopen any case. Perhaps that would have been better? But, again the sheriff said that the case had been “vetted.”

    From what I understand that the deputy in question has been, thus far, a model deputy. I would expect he has learned his lesson. Sadly, this mess will continue. Many other deputies are now trapped in the political morass that has been LA County for some time.

    But, on a happy note note; the deputies love Sheriff AV, by in large.

    Please update when you can.

    • Mondayan a “model deputy”? Of course you are entitled to your opinion. When does the “thus far” begin?

      Even the Sheriff has limitations of power regardless of who he/she is.

      • Try not to get angry. If you have the chance to check into the deputy’s behavior, since he was reinstated, determine for yourself. Of course the sheriff has limitations but we are talking about legal standing.

        • 3 months of “modified behavior” doesn’t pass muster.

          Glad to see that someone addressed the elephant in the room and and made a decision.

  • Once again, in a short matter of time (less than 3 months in office) AV and his cronies have done it again. Will the madness ever stop, I hope not! It’s just too fun watching the fiasco continue to unfold.

    If the reports are correct, AV knew the BOS position and received notification of their intent. However, he (or his cronies that read his letters and emails) never informed the deputy or acknowledge the letter.

    It’s been an E ticket ride since December 3rd. The amusement has been non-stop. Unfortunately, LASD is once again being dragged into a cesspool that has been created by the AV Administration. Don’t get me wrong, I voted for this guy, as apparently many did (uh, that’s another story). Big mistake that I will not make in the next election (if he lasts that long).

    And yeah the deputies like AV, since ALADS gave his election 1.3 million. He is now beholden to Union agenda (what ALADS wants they will get). So yeah, the Deps like AV, while the rest of the Department (including the cronies he has promoted) wonder when All the wheels will come off.

    Soooo sad.

    • ALADS is no stranger to controversy who spends membership dues as they please.

      First and foremost, the majority of deputies are clueless as to the operation and agenda of ALADS outside of family picnic events and possible legal representation. It’s clearly evident when polls are sent out by ALADS and are returned with less than 1300 responses.

      The key word now by ALADS President Ron Hernandez is “voting members” in which you can read through the lines. When deputies are asleep, there is no way to monitor management or money (dues).

      The LASD Pandora’s Box Sandal was only known to the majority of deputies after the fact with ALADS being in middle by backing Tanaka and screwing over ALADS member James Sexton. Shortly after that, ALADS screwed over former ALADS President Armando Macias by spending over 3 million on a case that is still ongoing (Superior Court Case BC540789).

      So Quagmire, you scored a bullseye when you indicated that ALADS “get what they want” which comes at any costs in attempts to get it.
      Notice how organizations such as ALADS feign transparency but still keep the same agenda regardless of who is running the show.

      Even though the 1.3 smackeroonies got Villanueva over the hump, he still shoud have bern leery of ALADS hefty donation because he also was “srewed over” by ALADS in earlier times. What a mess!

    • Q: Sheriff AV will run again and get reelected. You’re upset as you got kicked to the curb and I would be upset also had the same happened to me. Once again this is one issue and most voters don’t know or give a rip about this case. We voice our concerns because it effects us. There might be a change in the political climate, here in LA LA land, but I don’t see it happening.

  • That female resigned in lieu of being fired for lying about those allegations, at least that’s what I heard.

    Also heard Mandoyan didn’t need to be a deputy, he was financially secure, but chose to do so because he like being a deputy!

    Who knows these days legal standing don’t matter, a “bad” deputy is a “bad” deputy prior to facts.

    Reverse Jussie Smollett lol.

    • Touch: It certainly would put more light on this subject if she did lie. And if true the false statement must have been huge! The irony continues to be that armed robbers, rapist, murderers are being touted for release and given opportunity after opportunity to get their lives on track at the risk of victimizing society again. This is a common theme on wla.

      I also voted for Sheriff AV and he’s doing a great job. There’s a lot more going on that this one personnel matter. Again, the sheriff should have reopened the case. Just my thought.

  • I understand there are Department policy violations and criminal violations. Was there ever enough evidence to take this case to trial? What was the outcome of the court case? Was he found guilty or innocent? With regards to Department policy violations, was he subject to an overzealous and excessive punishment?

    Is this an example of being found guilty of something so say the court of BOS and public opinion? If so, let the lawsuit come and Bank of LA County Taxpayers prepare to write the settlement check.

    • Conspiracy: Sadly, you view maybe the correct legal choice? A lawsuit brings out all the ugly facts and the cost will be high.

  • Remember that McD did just the opposite. He kept people fired when Civil Service said give them their jobs back.

    I could be wrong, but I think it’s the Sheriff’s call one way or the other.

  • Once again, taxpayers are on the hook to cover costs for this fiasco.

    Will the Sheriff’s Department ever “get it right”?

  • Focusing the energy on this one person seems like a waste of time, for now☝I don’t know him, but I feel his pain not being able to get his job back…and I see how he is a hot button topic. Although frowned upon, his reinstatement rollercoaster has somehow set a standard of who can be returned to work. Moreover, there’s dozens of us DSG’s who are off ROD because of bogus things, who should’ve been returned to work even in the PAST administration and we’ve bled over into the new one. Not just sworn though, there are CA’s, SO, SA & LET’s who haven’t been given a chance to express the sufferings they’ve received as a result of former/current managers. They’ve been ostracized, deleted out of outlook and forgot about. The truth & reconciliation I believe is operating backwards. Let’s get the guys who still ARE employed by the LASD back to work, who are still collecting pay checks but have been made prisoners of their own homes. They sit at home and rot away while the fear of the unknown causes them more and more. PSYCHOLOGICAL damage.

    Sheriff Villanueva, I agree there’s a need for “reformation, restoration and rebuilding” but there should be some task to move along expeditiously.

  • Was Mandoyan an ALADS member?

    Did they represent him at any time prior to his reinstatement?

    Could there be a connection between the three of them “Villanueva, ALADS and Mandoyan”

    Obviously there is more to this drama that has not been exposed.

    • 1029 FD Agreed also!

      Not minimizing Mandoyan’s case but it is taking away many others.

      Too much back & forth in addition to finger pointing. In the mean time, deputies wait and wait and wait.

  • True……..someone arrange a town hall, gather the ROD and let them address the sheriff. Maybe their voices aren’t being heard.

  • Editor’s note:

    Hi everyone, there is a very short update on the Mandoyan case at the bottom of this story. A separate story on the matter is coming late this afternoon.

    Happy Monday!

    C.

  • This will be interesting as the nation peeks in on the happenings of LASD. The plot thickens …..

    • I want to know who is paying attorney Greg Smith? Is Mandoyan paying for it, the union, the Sheriff? There are a lot of better cases than Mandoyan’s that the Sheriff could have used as a platform for the un-just discipline that Mcdonnell / Teran regime was doing. Now, all those cases will be second guessed or put on hold for a guy that did it too himself. But hey, King Eli and Larry the Reaper love Mandoyan. Way to go Chief’s, just as bad as the last group….

  • Great…the Board of Supervisors served AV with a lawsuit sunday night at his house!

    They’re going after him for not firing Mandoyan.

    I wonder if he really thinks he can go up against the real power in the County.

    • Oh yes apostle, Alex was elected by all county districts not by one. The political class you are rooting for will lose, just watch.

  • Who cares if he gets hired again…really? There are plenty of haters, stalkers, and abusers on the department. They just slip through the cracks. But it will catch up to them one day. Karma is a Bitch!

    I voted for Alex but I had to raise my eyebrows at what he has been doing lately…sending the wrong message to EVERYONE who reads the paper or watches the news. Restore the department to what exactly? Things can never ever go back to how they were even if you want them to. Rebuild requires money which he may not get for having a pissing contest with the BOS. Reform what? what is he reforming when the restoration is taking the department backwards.

    Will we ever know the facts about Mandoyan? His Ex girlfriend should have had the Balls to defend herself in court and stood up for every woman who has been a victim of DV. Will we ever know the circs? Ummmm. I won’t loose any sleep over it.

    Life is so much bigger than the LASD and what their personnel do. Seriously, look at Scotty, Atrium, Collins and every other criminal who slipped through the polygraph Crack. Or did they become criminals after becoming deputies? We will never know either.

    This is not going to be the 1st or last we here about deputies being re-instated for committing misdemeanor crimes or loosing their jobs for doing them. Did I just say that? Let go of the past and move forward with it because this Department will never see the days of Sherman Block ever again. We may see Tanaka re-emerging but the BOS wont let that happen either.

    Sending the wrong message.

    • You have got to be kidding. Tanaka re-emerging and the BOS is going to save the day? LOL, that is a good one! Villanueva was Tanaka’s mortal enemy, and he threw everything he could at our new sheriff to destroy him.

      Bottom line is McDonnell and Teran entered an unlawful pack wherein they deprived deputies of due process in a bid to install their reign of terror masqueraded as “reform.” Villanueva is uncovering the scandal and predictably the political establishment is trying to kill the messenger. Nothing new here.

      • @ FEDUP The aforementioned deputies got due process of the law. That’s why they are sitting next Paul counting the days. The BOS has a legitimate argument and AV is doing exactly what he said he would not do. Cronyism. Yhea right! that’s unfair and partial. So much for upholding core values huh?

        I think Mandoyan needs to be fired and maybe rehired as a LET or a CA no Police powers. But that is nothing new for the LASD he will be your Commander 1 day. In the CAR.

        McDonald was a BAFOON could not make decisions on his own, This one thinks it’s gonna be like the good ol’ days as they say the Proof is in the pudding…promoting LT’s to Chiefs and so forth…really! open you eyes or stop drinking the Kool Aid. Mandoyan is another example of where the department is heading.

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