Fed Judge Sends Loud “Message” With 6 & 7 Year Sentences for LA County Sheriff’s Deputies in Jail Visitor Beating Case

On Monday morning, federal Judge George H. King sentenced former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies,
Sussie Ayala, 30, and Fernando Luviano, 37, to six and seven years respectively in a federal prison.

The sentencing followed Ayala and Luviano’s conviction on June 24, 2015, along with their supervisor, former LASD sergeant Eric Gonzalez, of charges pertaining to the brutal beating of a handcuffed visitor to Men’s Central Jail, along with a conspiracy to cover up the beating by falsifying official reports, thus causing the victim to be criminally charged as the aggressor.

After King pronounced the sentence, he remanded both former deputies straight into federal custody, refusing to allow either of the two to surrender after the holidays, as their attorneys had requested.

Judge King-—who is, incidentally, the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California-–-made it clear that he wanted to send a message with the sentences to serve as “general deterrence” to other law enforcement officers that “they are not above the law, they are subject to the law.”

King also stated unequivocally that he did not believe the crimes of which the two were convicted were any kind of one-off, as defense attorneys claimed. Rather, he said, their actions were part of a pattern, and that there was “evidence of prior violent behavior toward inmates” at Men’s Central Jail by Luviano specifically.

The judge’s words for Ayala were equally harsh telling her that that she had been the instigator, setting the beating in motion by summoning other deputies to use force. Her subsequent attempt to cover-up the beating “demonstrates that this really was a practice,” King said, and “hardly a one-time incident.” It was a “course of conduct.”

Luviano wept quietly as he was led from the courtroom. Ayala was dry-eyed.


For those unfamiliar with the case, the whole matter began on February 26, 2011, when Gabriel Carrillo and his girlfriend (now his wife) went to the Visiting Center for Men’s Central Jail intending to visit Carrillo’s recently arrested brother. Both Carrillo and his girlfriend carried their cell phones into the visitors’ center, although phones are prohibited under jail rules. When the phones were discovered, Carrillo was handcuffed and brought into an employee break room, where he was slammed around physically, but not really injured. In response, Carrillo mouthed off, albeit fairly. According to prosecutors, Carrillo’s backtalk triggered a “savage beating” by at least three deputies at once. He was also sprayed in the face with a burning agent similar to pepper spray. Paramedics later transferred Carrillo to the hospital, suffering from injuries to his face, ribs and wrists.

In December 2013, five LA County Sheriff’s department members were indicted for the Carrillo beating and cover-up. (A 6th department member, Byron Dredd, was indicted last month for his alleged involvement in falsifying internal reports.) This past June, Gonzalez was convicted on all counts along with Ayala and Luviano. Two other former LASD deputies—Pantamitr Zunggeemoge and Noel Womack—took plea deals earlier in the year and thus became witnesses for the prosecution. They will be sentenced in January.

During their testimony, both Womack and Deputy “Z”—as Zunggeemoge was called— provided harrowing descriptions of a cluster of large deputies kicking and slugging the far smaller Carrillo, who writhed, handcuffed, on the floor, trying to escape the blows, as Gonzalez looked on. “He was no threat to anyone,” said Womack of Carrillo.


Judge Kings statement about “evidence of prior violent behavior toward inmates” is backed by piles of documentation.

For instances, the ACLU’s massive class action suit, Rosas v. Baca, featured 70 signed declarations by victims of—or witnesses to—such incidents. The abuse described in the declarations was deemed credible enough that it forced a landmark settlement that was approved by the LA County board of supervisors last December, and then given final approval in April 2015 by U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson. (The settlement, just to remind you, was not for money, but to force a system of jail oversight that is intended to help prevent such incidents from happening in the future.)

Moreover, the name of Fernando Luviano, is featured prominently in several of the Rosas declarations, plus in the accounts of still other former inmates who were not part of the lawsuit.

As we have reported in the past, at WLA we have read declarations by eight different former jail inmates, some of them also witnesses, who described beatings, pepper spraying, outsized threats of retaliation, and similar actions in which Luviano allegedly took part. In the majority of cases, he was described as the main player, or at least one of them.

Earlier this year, we spoke to one of the Rosas victims, a 35-year-old named Michael Holguin, who works for a car auction company. Holguin explained how he was badly beaten in 2009 by several deputies, Luviano prominently among them.

Holguin was, at the time, in jail on a charge of possessing an illegal weapon—-namely a cop baton, which was inside the compartment on his motorcycle, where he’d reportedly stashed it, then forgotten about it.

According to Holguin’s civil complaint, in October of 2009, he and the other inmates of the 3500 unit of Men’s Central Jail, where Holguin was housed, had not been allowed showers for more than two weeks. “We had to bird-bath out of the sinks in our cells,” Holguin told me.

On October 18, however, along with others in his unit, he was finally let out of his cell for a shower. “It was odd cells one day, even cells the next day,” he said. But, after he was moved toward the shower area, at the last minute, Holguin was informed that he would not be allowed a shower after all. When Holguin asked why and protested that we wanted his scheduled shower, Luviano reportedly replied, “Turn around and I’ll tell you why.” At this point Holguin was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, then moved to a “nearby area,” where he was allegedly beaten severely, kicked, slammed repeatedly in the head and body with a hard object, presumably a flashlight, while the deputy chanted the requisite “stop resisting,” over and over, even long after inmate Holguin had been knocked—still handcuffed—to the ground.

“But I wasn’t struggling, except to kind of brace myself for the blows,” he said. “I was mostly trying to curl myself into a fetal position.”

At some point two other deputies reportedly joined in, spraying Holguin with a long stream of pepper spray. Then Luviano allegedly rubbed the spray in Holguin’s closed eyes, a description that now sounds creepily similar to Luviano’s close range and entirely punitive and gratuitous spraying of the handcuffed Gabriel Carrillo, who by then had open wounds on his face.

Although he declines to disclose the dollar amount, Holguin has already won what is thought to be a decent sized sum of money in the settlement of a civil suit against the county that concluded in the fall of 2013.

According to the diagrammatic record made by LASD’s Medical Services (see above), Holguin suffered extensive cuts and bruising requiring seven staples in the center of his scalp, plus four stitches over his right eyebrow. His knee was deeply lacerated, his tibia was broken in two places requiring a “short leg cast.”

But, again, Holguin’s report is only one of eight we read. There are also declarations by Robert Dragusica (2009), Antonio Candelario (2010), William Littlejohn (2011), Jonathan Goodwin (2011), Alex Rosas (2011), Jabaar Thomas (2011), and Arturo Fernandez (2011)—all naming Luviano.

But, despite these reports, at least two of which have resulted in high ticket civil settlements, until Luviano was convicted by the jury in June of this year, incredibly he was still employed by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (albeit relieved of duty, as was required once he had been indicted in December of 2013).

Yet, as complaints alleging brutality by Luviano piled up in 2009, 2010, and 2011, there were no consequences. So, it is hardly surprising that former deputy Luviano thought the same would be true when he and his colleagues assaulted jail visitor Carrillo, then falsified reports hoping to send their victim to prison on a phony felony charge to cover their tracks.

“I think it’s meaningful,” said So Cal ACLU legal director, Peter Eliasberg, that finally there are consequences. “Certain deputies like Fernando Luviano engaged in a rein of terror in Men’s Central Jail. And that’s over,” he said. “Luviano is going to spend a long time in prison.”


This case is one in a series of cases resulting from investigation into corruption and civil rights abuses at county jails in downtown Los Angeles. Fifteen current or former members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department have now been convicted of federal charges.

A string of additional federal trials based on indictments resulting from the same investigation into corruption and brutality at the LASD, including the trial of the former undersheriff, Paul Tanaka, will take place in 2016.


  • Who and where were the supervisors above the rank of Sgt? Not only this case but in almost every incident. It is ironic that no deputies stepped to say that enough is enough. Quite possible that peer pressure and retaliatory repercussions were strong enough to keep any other deputy from saying anything.
    The Sheriff’s Department definitely should take away their logo on all of their vehicles “A Tradition of Service”. It’s total B.S.

  • During this time period who was actually in charge of MCJ? We all know there was no chain of command and a lot of “yes men/women”. I’ll take care of it Mr. T. Where is my next great job or promotion. Anything you say Boss……let me grab you a cigar or maybe your dry cleaning…… pathetic
    leadership at its best….how much do you want for your campaign, let me fetch the money boss.

  • Seems like we should have had this Judge for the trial sentencing of the Convicted 7. Wonder what going on with their appeals.

  • Those being sentenced should put out a department wide memo thanking every deputy (7000+)that footed their legal bill.

    For the unknowing….Just look at your deductions on your check stub.

  • (ME: Raising my hand to #4)

    They were issued an Emergency Stay by the 9th Circuit of Appeals. You know?!? the folks that could have sent them to prison too, but said they believed there were issues with the case. Those issues included redacted testimony, preclusion of exculpatory evidence, 5th Amendment concerns….

    God forbid we let folks excercise the rights we so love to take away in America.

    If you had this judge in that trial, you would have less than 6 convictions for sure. You had a mistrial in a hanging judge’s courtroom so lets not forget our facts after Turkey Day.

    Beating the snot of a guy handcuffed in a break room and Pandora’s Box are nowhere near the same thing.

    In case you guys forgot, I like one of the guys in Pandora’s Box so let’s take a fade on this issue or keep talking about Gonzalez et. al being idiots.

  • What’s up with all the bad cops across the nation? It’s a dangerous and thankless job,however it appears as though any Thug can pass a background check and get the job. Crazy!

  • #4: Like him or hate him, The Honourable Percy Anderson’s excoriating remarks at the sentencing of “the 7” minced no words. Trust me, I was there.

    As far as appeals, well, that’s their right. Since these were not crimes of violence, they are allowed to be out, pending appeal. Apellate progress available at PACER.GOV.

  • “Luviano wept quietly as he was led from the courtroom”, psssh! Tough guy when somebody’s handcuffed and he’s got his goon squad with him.

  • These deputies and their sergeant are not victims, they are thugs, punks and bullies. Their arrogance had no boundaries, none. They did what they did, not only on this caper, but numerous other capers. I am just as much of a street cop as anyone, and business will be taken care of when justified. This caper was not a situation where any of us could say, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” Nope, this crew of arrogant thugs got what they deserved, good riddance. It’s not police work, to handcuff a little worm like the million dollar man, and beat his ass to a pulp. And when this crew of cowards finished stomping, kicking and socking this handcuffed 80 lb. nobody, the instigator, the female, sprays the dude. Wow, real courage, real professionalism, real pride, real police work, these chumps really showcased LASD to the public by reminding them how dangerous our profession is. Yep, it was touch and go in taking that nobody into custody over a fucking cellphone. The community is a safer place today because of the sacrifice and risk that Visiting crew took.

    I wish that incident WAS videotaped in its entirety. I’d play it ten times an hour on every news channel for a week. Because that video is the face of Paul Tanaka, he created this monster. No need to go Ito it, everyone and then some have already commented on the environment Tanaka created at CJ and other locations. That’s right Paul, this is all you. And it’s all the chain of command at MCJ during this time frame. Everyone of those cowards rubber stamped this behavior just to keep Paul happy. Where are all of them now? Promoted? Coveted positions? All taken care of. How they sleep at night is beyond my ability to comprehend. And to those to this very day make stupid comments about how these folks got a raw deal, “they were great people,” they were just doing their job, the two deputies who rolled are liars and just saved their own asses, bla bla bla, to those who want to sound like “partners” in front of the masses of alike thinkers, grow up then quit and start selling used cars. You have no business in my LASD. Maybe Tanaka will let you use him as a reference, after all, you probably donated to his campaign.

  • Regular Joe (@7) – I sympathize with the point I think you are trying to make, but I want to challenge the way you’re making it.

    You asked, “What’s up with all the bad cops across the nation?” Two problems with your question/observation as it stands. First, realize that the media environment has shifted radically over the last 25 years (e.g., since the video of Rodney King). Heightened outside and, now, self-video scrutiny of police officers and sheriff’s deputies is a part of that shift. Greater scrutiny means more instances of “bad” conduct will be revealed to the public, not necessarily that there has been a numerical increase in such behavior. In every field and guild of work, there is a small standard deviation of “bad” (fill in your adjective) operators. Judges, baseball players, journalists, priests, and schoolteachers included. History shows that human nature is unruly and (if you’re religious) sinful. The Bell Curve is a reliable concept used to think about the scope of that percentage. For example, when the LASD lowered its hiring standards briefly under the (cough) “leadership” of the indicted Mr. Tanaka, this evidence could be used in an empirical way. If those persons hired under those lower, Tanaka standards were proportionately worse (“bad”) in their work than previous and subsequent hiring standards then that could help your position. (If that empirical study is done – and it should be done – I believe you’ll find that a larger than ‘normal’ percentage of Tanaka hires may very well prove the empirical point. Hiring the right people is a penultimate strategic mission for a law enforcement organization.) So, intensified public scrutiny and the changing media environment, by itself, do not necessarily bear out a numerical or ratio increase of “bad cops across the nation.” We would need more empirical data that control for certain variables. Those data might be available somewhere, and they might strengthen your observation. But those data are subject to other limitations of social science (e.g., reporting problems).

    Second, and just as important, there is a thing called ‘confirmation bias’ which leads a person to reinforce a particular perception by being extra attentive to or otherwise too ready to interpret any event or incident that matches up with (confirms) one’s antecedent, prejudicial, pre-event assumptions (or worldview). Many people engage in confirmation bias as a way to shorthand the hard and nuanced thinking sometimes required in analyzing a number of separate events. Profiling can slip into confirmation bias. When leaders of the Black Lives Matter group draw certain general inferences (profiles, profiling) about law enforcement (statements omitted here), these leaders often engage in a kind of confirmation bias, among other fallacies (e.g., hasty generalization). When Mr. Comey of the FBI discussed a “chill wind” in October 2015, he was quite careful to avoid a confirmation bias: He placed a specific and legitimate context around the observation/question he made/posed. (Note: Alternatively, some people use a claim of confirmation bias as a way to attack people’s valid, legitimate, and accurate perceptions and inferences about reality. It has a two-sided blade. However, assenting to Einstein’s theories about gravity, light, and time, theories with ample objective, scientifically rigorous ‘proof’ over the decades, is not a case of confirmation bias.) So, please accept this as a mild challenge to the content of your post. If I’ve misunderstood or you were merely making an emotional, unreasoned point, then please disregard the above.

  • #11 – Argus – You are spot on! This reeks of Tanaka, his corrupted ideas of “justice”. It is shameful that he remains in power, albeit through his (now) very highly placed “blind followers”.

    Make no mistake Los Angeles County – Paul Tanaka remains strongly in control of the Sheriff’s Department. Those persons whom he personally selected and groomed, over the years, not only remain in power but many have recently been promoted to even higher ranks, so that they have an even greater effect on the overall business of the LASD. And, believe me when I say that the retaliation that Tanaka set in motion before he “retired”, remains strongly in effect today. His personal vendettas and retaliatory acts do continue.

    How many honest employees of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department saw this corruption “at birth”, and then witnessed it take hold within the executive cadre. And while trying to remain honest and truthful, according to the oath of office each of us have taken, the honest employees were then purposefully made to be victims of the Tanaka “machine”, as he fabricated allegations of whatever nature suited his arrogant and vengeful nature “du jour”. How many exceptional employees had their careers, and their futures destroyed by Tanaka and his blindly loyal followers. Sadly, the answer is – too many to count.

    It may be hard to believe that Tanaka would carry out a decade long vendetta against someone whom he “felt” had been disloyal to him a decade ago, and that he would carry out that vendetta on the targeted employees’ son (i.e. Deputy Lindsey) – I say “Believe it!” There are many living, decade-long Tanaka vendetta victims.

  • Funny how some swear that it’s all Baca’s fault and some swear it’s Tanaka’s fault. How about a culmination of both. News flash! The seed was planted before Tanaka. It just manifested with Tanaka after Waldie left. You veterans already knew the drill. Beatings & cheating was common place but never exposed. Only the public is aghast and shocked. Promotions (remember Sue) were slanted and tainted. Keep it real folks! Arco Narco, stiffing phone calls in Duarte, cross burnings in MCJ. Not enough space to call it all.

  • I’m surprised the lovely Mrs (or Ex Mrs) Tom Carey has posted her denial of Tom’s actions again of the LASD FB page. Hey, CS, you too drank from the goblet of Mr. Tee’s Koop aide. Cmon, would you have made Cpt without it? I think not.

  • @#14 Just Saying, I agree Baca and Tanaka are equally to blame. The culture of corruption existed before Tanaka rose to power. He was able to master it to his benefit.

    @#15, everyone promoted to captain and above durring the Tanaka era did drink from the cup. It was the only way to promote. I’m torn between blaming them for perpetuating this system and understanding they had no choice.

  • @Frank Murphy: I too was torn between blaming them and understanding they had no choice. I settled on blaming them and here’s why I formulated my opinion.

    One should choose to promote because you feel you are a good leader and your skills would benefit the department. In choosing to do so, you better be ready to speak up, as a group. As a group (pick the rank), most chose to roll over, throw common sense out the window and focus on the next rank/pay check thereby “perpetuating this system.”

    I know some good people who got stuck at a rank or run out of the Department, because they tried to speak up. This would not have happened if people had backed them up, as a group. Divide and conquer! One of the oldest strategies.

  • Interesting observation, now that The Visiting Crew have all been slammed to the mat and hauled off to Federal prison for 8,7,6 years respectively, there isn’t a peep from the “they got screwed, they were just doing their job,” crowd. Not a word from the Tanaka “Gray Zone,” crowd. That’s the way it always is, a lesson for all those cigar club holdouts. And this entire scenario will play itself out again with the little man. Stay tuned.

  • Hey Jack: Read the November issue of the Dispatcher and check out the V.P. message. I cringed and and threw my hands up. I immediately thought about your guy (mine too) who is still waiting on higher court for decision. That article is S.O.S.

  • Frank Murphy and Huh!, you both make good observations regarding the critical choice our illustrious managers and executives made at key moments in their career: join the corrupt administration and get rewarded handsomely for ranks/positions they did not qualify for, or refuse to play and suffer the consequences. I chose the latter, and suffered the consequences accordingly – a dead end career.

    The saddest part of the deal is that even with a new sheriff in town, the very same managers and executives continue to play the same game, rewarding family and friends, punishing the qualified who can stand on their own two feet. It’s hard to imagine what the sheriff was thinking by rewarding the unethical, believing that wiping the sheet clean for everyone would magically result in ethical decision making – fat chance. McDonnell’s august body of managers and executives should be forced to answer one simple question: what value do you bring to the organization? Each and every one of us knows the answer to that: crickets, crickets, crickets.

    McDonnell is well on his way to becoming the first one term sheriff since the turn of the 20th century, and for cause.

  • #19 & 21; thank you.

    What #5 does not know, is that our guy is paying his own way. No need to check that pay stub. You won’t find any factoids there.

    We will catch him up on the next relevant thread.

  • Jack…….I figured as much as far as your guy paying his own way, knowing that he was screwed by Dick & Crew.

    My post was being sarcastic, although true to let ALL deputies know the whereabouts of their monthly dues and how it is being spent……..for a selected few.

    I also am rooting for “your guy”. I pray that he prevails.

  • @ LATBG, HUH & Frank. I totally concur and agree with all of your posts which vindicate reality.

    It is also reality that those very same people read WLA, hoping that they can make a clean getaway or remain in obscurity without being named or identified by rank and job location.

  • Re: #19, I just read the VP’s message in the Dispatcher as well, your name is quite apt for the occasion. Unbelievable amount of drivel posted by someone who once had the inklings of being a reformer. Now it appears he drank the Koolaid and asked for seconds.

    Ron Hernandez, congrats on your election, now it’s time to show your mettle. In the next meeting you need to take your VP to task for endorsing the worthless Shinee product and trying to repackage shit as fertilizer.

    This is embarrassing, Sean, really? Did you bother, in your expert analysis, to include the total picture? How about how many members did NOT get the representation they were entitled to? How many cases were won, how many were lost, and how many were filed? ERCOM is a worthless forum to resolve grievances, as the department can drag the issue out for years without resolution – but Shinee keeps that meter running, eh?

    How about asking why ALADS doesn’t have a corporate attorney who does NOT have a financial interest in member representation? So you’re OK with Dick Shinee endorsing himself as the best legal representation money can buy? And you put your name on that Sean? Has it ever occurred to you that all you know about legal representation is what Dick Shinee tells you?

    I can only pray Ron doesn’t drink the same Koolaid. It’s time to fire Shinee and his entire law firm.

  • @ 25) Only time and a pair (top or bottom) will tell. The last board member to call out the inequities and perpetrators in that organization is currently engaged in a court battle against them. Every current board member has a hand in it, starting with Shinee. Long story short LATBG: It ain’t gonna happen.

  • @ #25. Why wouldn’t Sean drink the Jim Jones juice when his pay raise has jumped to over $1600 per month with the perks (including 5% increase of his Master FTO pay and car allowance) of being V.P of ALADS.

    Its lucrative and it seals the deal of being “IN”. It’s a racket that keeps on giving thanks to the enablers who turn a blind eye and deaf ears of Dick Shinee

  • #5 Factoid. I’ll do you one better. The ranks would love this one > Superior Court Case BC 540789. Scroll case summary and documents filed.
    You don’t need a calculator to add this up. It’s damn near a million dollar$ and counting. Guess who is getting paid? Now guess who’s paying for it? You won’t find this in the Dispatcher.

  • My congratulations to Ron Hernandez!

    Now…I’m going to kick you in the ass and tell you to “take care of business!

    Get it done Ron!

    Don’t let the corruption continue…it rests on you!!!

    LYN/FPK Past….

  • @20 LATBG, How true your words are, and how many have been sidelined and have not stood up to it? I’m standing up to it now and stand alone, no confidence in ALADS law firm. As a cop you know when someone is dirty, but sometimes you don’t have enough EV for an arrest. Same with G&S! $5 million a year and hand selects what cases to fight?

    I wish Ron the best but he can’t do much without the board’s support.

  • Ron has basically pissed off the remaining Hayhurst backers of whom the board is comprised of by exposing corruption as his rally cry . Just like the remaining Tanakanites, Alads Board of Directors are Pro Floyd, even though he is long gone. Ron called himself the catalyst of causing Hayhurst to depart.
    Although his intentions may be well meaning, It will take total MEMBERSHIP not Ron, to remove Dick and get new legal representation for deputies.

  • Would really like to know of any response from the FNG Ron. No doubt since he is a new board member he probably has to walk on egg shells.

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