Sheriff Alex Villanueva

LA County Supervisors Take Sheriff Alex Villanueva to Court Over Mandoyan Case

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

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 afternoon.

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

(On Monday, the  Tuesday court date was changed to Wednesday.)

The county’s lawsuit is the next step in what has become an escalating battle between the board of supervisors and the new sheriff, most of which has centered around the Mandoyan case.

“They’re trying to get to the sheriff through Mandoyan,” said attorney Greg Smith.

The new 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.

Sheriff Villanueva ignored this directive.  No badges or warrents were collected.

Then on February 28,  Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller John Naimo, sent a hand-delivered letter to Mandoyan himself telling him that he was “not authorized to serve as a county employee,” and needed to turn over his badge etc. etc.

The orders in that letter didn’t fare any better than those of the February 20 letter.

Carl Mandoyan, as most readers know,  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.

The alleged victim stated in an application for a temporary restraining order that Mandoyan grabbed her by the back of her neck and pushed her face down into a couch, then ripped off her jeans and continued to squeeze her neck “for as long as 30 seconds.”

She further alleged that when she escaped and tried to lock herself in a bathroom, Mandoyan kicked in the door and broke it, according to the LA Times’ Maya Lau, who first broke the story in mid January.

Then, after the incident,  Mandoyan allegedly spied on his ex, attempted to shove his way into her home several times, listened in on conversations with friends, threatened her, and so on.

The deputy appealed to the five-person civil service commission, which unanimously upheld his termination.

After his election, Sheriff Villanueva reinstated Mandoyan, which caused an uproar, especially because of the allegations of spousal abuse against the former deputy.

At a press conference held early last month, Steve Gross, the Chief of the LASD’s South Patrol Division,  explained to the crowd that he and a committee of others reviewed all the facts of Mandoyan’s case, and that the “ad hoc committee” determined that some the findings in the case were “founded,” said Gross, and “we upheld those findings.” Whereas, most of the other findings the group “found to be ‘unresolved,” meaning in wasn’t clear if they were true or false.

According to Greg Smith, even with his reinstatement, Mandoyan did not go entirely unpunished, but was relieved of duty for twelve days as a sanction for one of the accusations that the reinstatement committee considered to be “founded.”

Reading aloud from the new committee’s findings, Smith said that committee members “concluded Mr. Mandoyan exercised poor decision making and acted in an impulsive and immature manner when he entered on to the balcony patio of [his ex’s] residence and repeatedly knocked on her window, and when he opened her unlocked bathroom window and engaged in a back and for the with [his ex].” Further, “[his ex] did not give him permission either to climb on her balcony or to open her bathroom window. She repeatedly asked him to leave and threatened to call the police….”

Mandoyan said he was trying to retrieve his gun and a bag from his ex’s home.  It was for this, according to Smith, that Mandoyan received the 12 days on the sidelines after his rehiring.

As for the upcoming hearing, Smith said that it is his and the sheriff’s position that the county “doesn’t have the authority to rescind a bad termination,” a point that he said was important to the Supes case. Smith also contends that it is “completely within the sheriff’s purview and within his power to run the day to day operations of the sheriff’s department,” which includes rehiring Carl Mandoyan.

More soon


  • I guess the BOS is going to take a play from the far left playbook and run the same style of attack against Sheriff Villanueva as is being used against President Trump. If you (meaning in-trenched power base) don’t like the results of an election or the candidate elected by the people through a valid election process, use the media to attack and destroy and courts to try and get your way.

    What’s that saying, “elections have consequences” and folks need to work together and move on.

    Hopefully Sheriff requests a change of venue.

  • Wow…the story gets stranger and stranger. I’m really impressed with the work of Steve Gross, GREAT job! You’re “ad hoc committee” found Mandoyan DID, in fact, climb onto the victim’s balcony, enter through the bathroom window and “engage in a back and forth.” Could it be because it was ON VIDEO?

    But the OTHER charges were unfounded (because there wasn’t any video, I suppose).

    THEN, Mandoyan does 12 days on the bricks for that offence AFTER getting re-instated! But…didn’t he already get FIRED for it (and other charges)? So deputies who were fired and get their job back will now face possible time off for their original violation?

    I know one thing, the Board of Supes don’t do things without first checking. I know they’ve looked VERY carefully at what their options are in dealing with AV.

  • C: A true story about a similar case and no involvement by the BOS. Last, plain opinion.

    Years ago before the DV laws changed it was nearly impossible to get a conviction as the victims were just plain hesitant to file a complaint. Sadly, all too often the abuse and violence continued. Just before the laws changed a deputy was charged and convicted of DV in which he plead to a misdemeanor. During the process of termination he was reconciled to his wife and the sheriff reinstated the deputy. Then the DV laws changed and due to his conviction the deputy was unable to carry a weapon. The LASD then petitioned the court for a waiver and received a permit for the deputy to carry a gun. The deputy turned out as a model deputy sheriff.

    This case was highlighted in the media and everything was out in the open. The point? The BOS never interfered with the reinstatement process. Again the reinstatement of terminated employees in not new.

    We can argue if any deputy should get their job back. There are many questions but, in my view, the main concerns are; Can the sheriff reinstate a deputy in the current case? The legal precedent has been set and the sheriff does have that authority. Next, where is the legal standing for the BOS to prevent the sheriff’s authority to reinstate employees? If the court issues an order preventing the sheriff from reinstatement of employees then there would no need to have a sheriff at all. The BOS could, in fact, over rule the Civil Service Commission at a whim. If this petition holds up then couldn’t the sheriff also petition the court when the BOS makes a decision that the LASD doesn’t like? Could not the sheriff, under a similar petition, ask the court to restrict Kruel and Barger re political campaigns? Where would this stop? The proper avenue to change the reinstatement process would be through the state legislature. The BOS can not (or should not) arbitrarily change past practice of LASD. It will interesting to see what the court does.

    It’s obvious that the BOS wants to control the LASD and thwart the will of the voters of LA County. Unfortunately, the last sheriff(McDonnell) was all to happy to acquiesce to the BOS. We all know how power corrupts!

  • I call this disease “Trumpism,” forget all all logic and legality to prove your point. I’ve seen plenty of tax payer usernames on this thread and I too am a la county tax payer. All deputies are tax payers, some for other counties. But my point is as much I am concerned about government spending, how much does this cost the county to fight. Just like I worry how much these commutes and counsels spend to investigate trump. I get it truth must be sought but at what expense. Laws need to be followed and from my little knowledge of law the BOS don’t have much to stand on.

  • I know and have worked with many good cops in SoCal but to be honest with you, no one is more cockier than those in LASD.
    When Tanaka and crew thought they were smarter than the FBI, we all saw the results.

    Now we have a Sheriff who basically is ignoring administrative ruling by overruling a decision that he has nothing to do with.

    I’m not surprised at the amateur lawyers who make their debut via this blog for the Sheriff as if WLA is the court room. Definitely a head shaking moment.

  • Av even gave Carl a county vehicle!!!wtf ! Really that foo is only a deputy ! Forget that not cool

  • @Anonymous, exactly & a continuation of unnecessary conflict. If you want to do as is being attempted in the Mandoyan case, it seems to me it’s a rehire & not a reinstatement. If LASD can appoint someone that is not officially an employee, then we have a patronage system not unlike you’ll find in parts of the US & third world countries. I would guess that this would not pass the POST Commission standards. The POST Commission standards were circumvented by Baca’s wiz kids & put LASD on the ropes. Um in reading your thoughts, how didn’t AV & Executive Staff not do exactly what you complain the BOS might do, override the Civil Service Commission’s unanimous 5 votes. On the surface this comes off as an unnecessary power play, even possibly a dangerous “us against them” play that smells of rouge mentality. If AV has legitimate grievances re: fired or excessively disciplined employees, why not systematically lay the cases out to the BOS & Civil Service Commission & seek legal resolution. Los Angeles has a Civil Service based employee system, not a patronage system.

  • 924: Please stop the personal attacks. It doesn’t resolve the problem. I’m not as smart as AV

  • 924, you a sergeant calling the sheriff out? Laughable, you are lucky to have been reinstated…come on cut it out ….your personal hate for Carl is going to catch up to you eventually,,,,

  • Um, Enjoyed your post and agree with the questions. Just a guess, but I am willing to bet that the prior reinstatement involved the County Director of Personnel and County Counsel. It also presumably did not involve someone active in the Sheriff’s campaign demonstrate undue influence by jumping over others that had been waiting longer for their cases to be reviewed. I’m not blaming Mandoyan for that btw – but it appears that factually, that’s what happened. While the details of the Sheriff’s research are not available, suspect he was advised that he could reinstate an employee and he did so without first vetting it with the County Counsel, etc. It’s going to be interesting…

  • Um:

    “Of course you have proof?”

    The county vehicle?

    ABC7 News showed it in Mandoyan’s driveway in last night’s 6 PM broadcast.

  • There’s A Lot Of ROD Deputies Sitting At Home Wishing Someone Was Standing Up For Them For Far Less……But Yet They Are Put On Hold Until This Fiasco Plays Out.

  • Cog: Many deputies have cars, not a violation of department Rules and Procedures. But, yes the optics are poor. In all my many years I have never been called a “novice” and I must admit I laughed but, it was understandable. But, let’s talk about issues with this case. News reports have it that the deputy was reinstated if he would drop the legal case against the department and county. This was done, according to news reports. So, if Sheriff AV terminates his employment once again then the deputy has recourse for a law suit and I feel he would prevail as the deputy pulled the law suit in good faith. The same news outlet reported that the victim has “minor” injures and no criminal case was pursued for “lack of evidence.” Do you agree that this also is bad optics?

    No one knows what the judge will do tomorrow. But, it appears likely that this will go to trial as to what any elected Department Head can and cannot do.

  • Um, good post and agree these are the questions. Strip away the noise of personalities and nuances of this particular matter, what powers and authorities do independently elected sheriffs in California have to select, hire, fire, rehire, or otherwise employ POST certified (someone who has not been decertified by POST) personnel? To what extent may a BOS interfere with that inherent authority attached to the Sheriff’s office?

    These local power struggles occur from time-to-time, just as they do at the national level. Let’s not set our hair on fire and be melodramatic. Institutionalists cannot abide disharmony. Rather than viewing these kinds of things as disharmonious and unnecessary, they might be better viewed as signs of a healthy, vibrant republican form of government. Two cheers for civil friction and incongruity! They help our political system to be less (not more) fragile because they periodically re-visit the parameters of authority for those who work for citizens. This fight needs to happen and, quite frankly, I’m impressed that both sides –the BOS and the Sheriff– are going to clarify their respective authority.

    At the end of the day, seems to me a judge will tread lightly and rule narrowly. Who is representing the Sheriff and Department if County counsel has been conflicted out?

  • @And 1
    Exactly!!!!!! But hey, those deputies didn’t kiss King Eli and Larry the reapers ass…..and then help with a campaign and donations. All they did was be good deputies that got screwed

  • Past and Breath:
    Yes, I agree it looks bad but looking bad is not against the law. Does the sheriff have the legal right to rehire or reinstate anyone? This process and has been used numerous times before without intervention by the BOS. To which is my point. Ironically, Bob Lindsey would have reinstated the deputy also. However, I sense that Bob Lindsey would have done it differently, but, that’s speculation.

    Sheriff AV told everyone during the campaign that he was going to do this. Who did we think he was talking about if it was not this deputy? What happened was no one thought AV had a chance of winning-but everyone was wrong. BTW: I don’t know the deputy in question and cannot attest to his abilities. From a good source that I trust this deputy is minding his P’s and Q’s. As this case moves forward the BOS will need to force the victim to come forward and tell her story under oath. I hope that the facts come to light in a courtroom and not in a zoo like atmosphere similar to the Kavanaugh hearing. No one won in that circus.

    Too many rumors now to support any possible outcomes. I do predict that this case will set precedent for the future. Sadly, these two people will have to relive this nightmare over again. And I don’t want to speculate why she resigned-but it looks bad doesn’t it?

    I just don’t like any political body telling any elected official how to run LASD. I would voice the same concern had the BOS done this to McDonnell or Baca. Too bad that cooler heads did not prevail and an equitable solution could not have been agreed to by all.

    Last, thanks for the thoughtful debate. No need for personal attacks.

  • Um, I understand your point and agree that this case is going to be discussed for a long time in county admin circles. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and indeed, probably wise not to speculate re why the woman involved in Mandoyan’s case resigned. The job sure isn’t for everyone and people leave with a fair regularity for other pastures.

    I would respectfully disagree that it just “looked bad” – it was bad. He left others with older cases to wait for the establishment of a new commission, while he made taking care of his friend an immediate priority.
    The Sheriff is not running a kingdom. He can’t just make up a procedure, wave a magic wand and rehire (or not rehire!) someone tased on friendship. Elected or not, he is obligated to follow county policies, rules, codes, etc. and that includes the reinstatement process.

    All Sheriffs and other department heads develop power within the county by cultivating relationships. In this case, the opposite is happening. This mess could have been seen coming a mile away and rather than fix it early, the Sheriff is digging in. It will cost him influence with the Board and unfortunately as they punish him, they will punish the entire agency. I saw that happen when I was Downtown years ago to another agency and it wasn’t pretty…

    I don’t dislike AV and still have hope that he will do many positive things but he better get some people around him that will tell him something other than what he wants to hear – and start listening. Appreciate the discussion here.

  • I respect Villanueva too much even with his ‘faux pas’ to put he and Trump in the same sentence. Simply no comparison between the two.

  • Um:

    “…it appears likely that this will go to trial….”

    The Courts are the best places for a final, legal resolution of these kinds of cases.

  • In all of these comments, not once have I read anyone state that Sheriff AV should behave ethically and with integrity. His concern should be for the already tarnished image of the department. One of his jobs is to restore the poor image it acquired in previous administrations. If he thought that he could rehire this individual on the sly with no one noticing, he was sadly mistaken. Allegedly,the deputy was stalking the victim, going on her balcony, and trying to get in through a bathroom window. That shows a lot of lack of maturity, common sense, lack of self control, and impulsivity. The man should not carry a gun and therefore should not be rehired.

  • I smell retirees and SHB all through this post. Seems like Carol Lin and McD are still prevailing.

  • The County Establishment has been united against AV since Day One. How else to explain Carol Lin getting fired by surprise at LASD in the morning and hired by the County CEO in the afternoon? How is that even possible in the county bureaucracy? How else to explain both Diana Teran and Sergio Perez (the brand new Constitutional Policing Advisor) immediately getting jobs at the OIG? How did they have open positions that they just perfectly fit? Budget? Now you have the appointed and unaccountable Lin, Teran and Perez waging a rear-guard action against the ELECTED sheriff–likely including leaking confidential documents (illegally). These likely being the same people who illegally leaked documents in the past (e.g. the list of 300).

    But of course none of this will be reported because they are the sources for the hit pieces Maya Lau is churning out (which make her look good to her bosses). And other members of the McDonnell circle are the people she then goes to to solicit their views (Peter Eliasberg, Jorga Leap, Krinsky, Bonner, etc, etc), which are then used to justify articles about how “concerns have been raised”. Which the Editorial Board then piles onto. And the cycle repeats.

    Disgusting. An abuse of power. And a disgrace of journalism.

  • LMFAO… Look at all you bitter souls… Why are you taking all this so personal. This blog would be blank if you had to put your real names to it. No one takes your whining seriously. I come here to read all the bitter McDonnell flunkies cry and whine.

    Get over yourselves. Don’t underestimate AV. That’s all… Now go back to entertaining me with your petty posts.

    In the end, AV is still the Sheriff and Mandoyan will be rich AF.

  • Ron Hernandez,,, Ron Hernandez,, calling ALADS President Ron Hernandez…. you spent 1.5 million on the election. What’s wrong? Where is your support now? Cut and run?

  • “Think about it”: I’m right here. Rep meetings tomorrow 1100 hours and 1800 hours if you would like to show up and have a discussion.

    Or, you can just call me out here and ACT like I’m hiding.

  • I knew it!
    Same response, song and dance, “Come to the rep meeting” LOL! While forgetting to add “if you’re a voting member”

    Ron, you sealed your demise a long time ago specifically when you bad mouthed past presidents of ALADS.
    You still continue to fight a losing battle re; SB1421, even though your counterparts (LAPD & Orange County Sheriff Department) saw the light.

    This is not a personal attack Ron, just a reality check for you to reevaluate some things.

  • “SHAD 49”: “Sealed my demise.” ?

    Regarding SB 1421, so you feel fighting in the hope of stopping “retro activity” of people’s personnel files is not worth the fight. And, you think we should give up because others did!

    Ok, run that around your partners and see how popular that mindset is.

    If I had that mindset I’d hide behind an anonymous blog name too.

    The excuses for anonymity no longer fly!

    We have a new administration, and I don’t think they care if you oppose me negatively and have an opinion.

    I’m guessing you must be a “past president!”

  • OH WOW. So now that the judge today sided with the sheriff, Ron and ALADS will appear. Great job Ron! Way to get ahead of this.

  • …an entrenched legislative body did not have an election go as planned and their lackey did not get elected

    the person who was elected (and their message approved) with the overwhelming support of the PEOPLE and is a political outsider

    the insiders don’t want to cooperate with the elected outsider and pull out all stops to impede, stop and maintain their control

    when all else fails, file frivolous lawsuits and utilize the media to trash the elected’s character and re-cast the elected outsider’s message in “your own negative spin image”

    hope for a judge symphathetic to your views and efforts at destroying the elected outside, and taking them off track of their campaign goals

    Insert the name of whomever the elected outsider you think is appropriate

  • “Think about it”: clearly you have no love for ALADS, or me in particular, and that’s the beauty of free speech, you get to come on this site and ACT like you know what you are talking about!

  • Ron Hernandez, Oh, I love Alads. I just think you put more effort into defending yourself than you do defending the sheriff. .. as evidenced by this exchange. Again, not a peep in defense of the sheriff, Its all about you.

  • The only reason Alads backed the Sheriff was to save their own asses from the fucking shenanigans they helped the Mcbuckles/Teran clan cover up. Alex should watch his back because those at Alads aren’t on your side. Ron the self proclaimed tough guy who calls out folks behind a keyboard to come to a meeting! what a fucking joke.

  • Trust me, Alex was told more than once at several of his campaign speeches last summer to beware of ALADS.

  • Interesting that it bugs some of you guys that I continually defend myself. I guess you guys don’t have defend yourselves, since no one knows who you are.

    We have a great relationship with the Sheriff and this administration. He doesn’t need me defending him.

    Keyboard warrior? I’m using my own name you goofball!

    Some people just talk and hide, others get things done!

    “Think about it,” great choice for your screen name. That’s exactly what I would have picked for you!

  • 924-Why dont you do yourself a favor and get in another foot pursuit causing the department to write another policy behind your fails.

  • “UknowwhoIam” clever screen name, but you’re still hiding!

    Can you please give an example of your accusations?

    Oh wait. I bet I can guess your answer.

    Is it “you know what I’m talking about!”

  • Why does Villanueva hate the board of supervisors so much???

    He talks lots of shit about them all the time lol funny shit.

    I heard villanueva was from bandidos too true or false??
    I heard they’ve seen his tattoo true or false?

  • The only reason the BOS is taking AV to court is because someone stood up to them. They don’t like it! These fools think it’s going to make the Sheriff shake. AV is not taking a knee! Remember the ACLU supports the criminals behind bars. Our Sheriff supports his employees.

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