Sheriff Alex Villanueva

A Scathing, In-Depth Analysis By the Inspector General Pronounces Re-Hired LA County Deputy Carl Mandoyan Unfit For the position of Deputy Sheriff

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

It’s not been an easy week for Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

LASD, Banditos, courtesy of attorney Greg Smith

On Thursday morning, the LA Times broke the news that the FBI is now investigating the LASD’s deputy gang problem—prominently including the influence of the Banditos clique in the department’s East LA. Station, which has, of late, become a lawsuit factory.

The news that the feds were stepping in came after Sheriff Villanueva announced in late June that he’d transferred 36 of the members of the Banditos out of East LA, and thus had the deputy cliques matter well in hand.

Yet, credible sources inside the station have made it clear that the sheriff’s claim of all these Bandito transfers simply wasn’t true, that the Bandito’s were still in ELA in significant numbers, still in many ways calling the shots—much to the dismay of the many dedicated, non-inked deputies who work at the place.

East LA Community members speak out about deputy gangs at Thursday, July 11, 2019 forum, via WitnessLA

On Thursday night, July 11, the message that the department’s deputy gang problem was far from solved was reiterated by many among the large crowd of East Side residents who attended a packed-to-the-rafters community meeting hosted by the LASD’s Civilian Oversight Commission.

And then earlier this week, the Office of the Inspector General released an exhaustively-researched analysis of the sheriff’s so-called Peace and Reconciliation Program—specifically looking at how the program worked when it came to the controversial re-hiring of Deputy Caren Carl Mandoyan, a move that is still the subject of legal action on the part of the LA County Board of Supervisors.


The OIG’s take on Mandoyan’s firing and re-hiring

In order to write their 34-page report, the  OIG analysts reviewed well over 2000 pages of documents, plus photos, videos, interview transcripts and more, most of which WitnessLA has also reviewed.

(You can review much of this material yourself, and thus draw your own informed conclusion, by delving into the information-packed cache of “exhibits” the OIG has helpfully provided).

This rigorous analysis led the OIG investigators to a series of conclusions about the sheriff’s process in reinstating Deputy Mandoyan, prominently including the following:

1. Contrary to what the sheriff and his Truth and Reconciliation panel have claimed, substantial evidence exists in support of the Civil Service Commission’s decision to uphold Carl Mandoyan’s discharge from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

In other words, based on the actual evidence, and the testimony of a list of credible witnesses, Mr. Mandoyan appears to have done what he was accused of doing—from the alleged physical attack on his then-girlfriend, who was also, at the time, a deputy sheriff, to bullying and attempting to control both the girlfriend’s social life with women’s friends, and her work life, to his multiple attempts to break into her house, then lying about his actions to Internal Affairs, to threatening the alleged victim with reprisals from his powerful “Grim Reaper” friends, and other unpleasant behavior that is alarming on its face, but particularly so when it comes from someone with a badge and a gun who is tasked with enforcing the law.

(The Grim Reapers, for anyone unfamiliar, is the name of another of the department’s notorious deputy cliques. Mandoyan has admitted he has a Grim Reaper tattoo. And the sheriff’s recently-replaced Chief of Staff, Lawrence Del Mese, has long been known as someone once high up on the  Grim Reaper food chain.)

Among the OIG’s list of exhibits is the transcript of a phone call that Mandoyan made to the alleged victim—whom we’ll call Deputy X—in which he threatens her with retaliation by his well-connected Reaper pals. “It’s gonna be real funny when you fuckin’ see just how much influence I have,” he says charmingly.

(We’ll have more on that call in a minute.)

2. Despite all of the above, the sheriff and his Truth and Reconciliation panel concluded that Mandoyan’s wrongdoing was quite minor, which the panel primarily described as “poor judgment and decision-making skills,” all of which did not “rise to the level of discharge.”

According to the OIG’s report, however, the panel drew those conclusions after unaccountably electing not to consider “key pieces of evidence regarding Mandoyan’s actions,” including a bunch of video evidence, photos showing injuries to Deputy X and to the door of her bedroom which Mandoyan allegedly kicked trying to get to Deputy X after she escaped him,  the testimony of important witnesses who could corroborate certain incidents and/or actions by Mandoyan, plus the transcript of Mandoyan’s creepy threatening call, which Deputy X recorded—so Mandoyan couldn’t delete it, as he reportedly did routinely with anything on her phone he didn’t happen to fancy.

3. The choice to reinstate Mandoyan was not a neutral process of picking “low hanging fruit,” as the sheriff has repeatedly stated.  Re-hiring Mandoyan had been high on Sheriff Villanueva’s To-Do list, well before he was sworn in. Furthermore, the issue of whether or not Mandoyan was going to be found appropriate for reinstatement was never in question.

This was demonstrated by, among other things, a November 30, 2018, e-mail from then-LASD Chief Alicia Ault to the in-coming sheriff’s then-chief-of-staff, Lawrence Del Mese, the new administration’s efforts “to reinstate or re-hire Mandoyan began well before his case was evaluated by the Truth and Reconciliation Panel,” said the OIG report.

In the email (which was originally obtained by Maya Lau at the LA Times), Chief Ault wrote that she had forwarded a document sent by Del Mese about Mandoyan to County Counsel so that the county’s lawyers and Mr. Mandoyan’s attorney could work together “to achieve the goal of returning him [Mandoyan] to work.” (Emphasis added by the OIG).

“Based on the e-mail,” stated the OIG’s report, “it appears that the current administration gave direction on the ultimate outcome of this process — bringing Mandoyan back to work” —before the sheriff ever took office.


Who you gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?

One of the most interesting sections of the report has to do with the string of public statements made by Sheriff Villanueva about Mandoyan’s case:
“Mandoyan’s due process rights were violated,” the sheriff said, and “Mandoyan’s alleged conduct should not have resulted in discharge,” and “the Department’s investigation and adjudication of Mandoyan’s case was biased,” and “important exculpatory evidence was not presented at the Civil Service Hearing,” and finally, “the Truth and Reconciliation Panel came to its own findings without being influenced by any outside parties.”

After listing them, the report neatly demolishes all these complaints and objections by the sheriff.

And, about the contention that Mandoyan’s conduct should not have resulted in discharge,  interestingly, when Deputy X made a report to the El Segundo Police Department about Mandoyan’s behavior after she’d been allegedly choked by him to the point that she was afraid for her life, El Segundo Officer Marco Lemus, who interviewed Deputy X, described in his report the “visible injury” he saw on her skin where Mandoyan grabbed Deputy X.  Her bruises, according to Lemus,  were among of the elements that caused him to conclude that Mandoyan was “in violation of 273.5(a) PC, domestic violence.”  In his written account, Lemus also suggested the evidence pointed to a violation of 646.9 (a) PC “stalking.”

The OIG report also takes time to explain that both the LASD and the Civil Service Commission, found that Mandoyan made false statements when interviewed by Internal affairs, which consisted of, among other things,  “(a) denying that he attempted to enter into the victim’s residence by way of her sliding glass door; and/or (b) denying that he attempted to enter into the victim’s residence through her bathroom window; and/or (c) stating that he used a tool/object/”pulley” handle only to knock on the door to gain her attention to retrieve his backpack and keys; and/or (d) stating that he opened the victim’s bathroom window only to apologize to her,” when videos tell a very different story.

(All of these statements, indeed, appear to be less than truthful if one watches several of the videos that Deputy X made of Mandoyan trying to break in her house, such as the one above, and the two below.)

“Each of these reviewing bodies,” the OIG investigators wrote, “even if they were to have used the 2012 Guidelines [for Discipline] would properly have upheld the discharge of Mandoyan for making false statements since discharge was within the disciplinary range of either version of the Guidelines for Discipline.”

(Note: The OIG was referring to the 2012 LASD Guidelines for Discipline, which Villanueva has prefers, rather than the updated 2015 version of the Guidelines that former Sheriff McDonnell favored.)

The report sums up the guidelines issue this way:

“Courts have found that domestic violence demonstrates a ‘readiness to do evil,’ the federal government precludes the carrying of a gun for those convicted of the criminal version of such conduct, and unfailing honesty is essential to the core function of a peace officer.”


Unfit “for the position of Deputy Sheriff”

The OIG authors saved for last the matter of the transcript of the recording of the unpleasant  phone call that Mandoyan made to Deputy X, and that she recorded.

Rather than summarize OIG authors’ commentary on the call, we have included their assessment nearly in its entirety:

“….the administrative investigation file reviewed by OIG staff included a transcript of a partial telephone conversation between the victim and Mandoyan,” they write. “The substance of the conversation is very disturbing and corroborates many of the victim’s allegations against Mandoyan. The victim has repeatedly stated that Mandoyan did not want her to go to briefings as one of the various ways Mandoyan exerted control over her life. The telephone transcript shows that Mandoyan told the victim not to go to station briefings. This is significant because Mandoyan unequivocally stated in his Internal Affairs interview that he never told the victim not to attend briefings. The telephone transcript shows that Mandoyan lied to Internal Affairs on this issue.” (Italics WLA’s.)

“In another portion of the telephone transcript,” the OIG authors continue, “Mandoyan makes statements such as “[i]t’s gonna be real funny when you fuckin’ see just how much influence I have.’ The victim accused him of being a ‘Reaper.’ She understood that to mean that he had friends that were also Reapers, who held higher positions and who had influence within the Department.  Mandoyan admitted he had a Reaper tattoo, but stated that it was a station tattoo and it did not mean anything.’ Mandoyan’s statements in this telephone call corroborate the victim’s assertions that he threatened to use his influence in the Department as a tool of fear against her.

“Mandoyan calls the victim a ‘cunt,’ accuses her of flirting with a fellow deputy, and seems agitated that the victim chose to speak to her [female] cousin. Here again, Mandoyan stated to Internal Affairs that he never told the victim not to speak with her cousin. These statements corroborate allegations that Mandoyan was jealous and wanted to control the victim’s interactions with others.

“The telephone transcript was not considered during the administrative investigation or the Civil Service Hearing because of admissibility issues.  However, those admissibility issues would likely not preclude the Department from considering the telephone transcript when deciding whether to re-hire a deputy. It is undisputed that the Department was aware of this recording and had questioned Mandoyan on its contents during his interview with Internal Affairs.

“Again, assuming that Mandoyan was ‘re-hired,’ the Department was in possession of now publicly available evidence that conclusively established Mandoyan’s dishonesty and unfitness for the position of Deputy Sheriff.

“This Office is aware of no case where a deputy was reinstated under similar circumstances.”

So there you have it.


Note: The three videos above are from the Civil Service Commission Case File of rehired LASD deputy Caren Carl Mandoyan. In the two videos nearest the bottom, which depict a sequence, Deputy Mandoyan has allegedly broken into the apartment of his estranged girlfriend, Deputy X, via the bathroom window, after heading to her home just before he thought she would be getting off work. He allegedly did so, surreptitiously, not knowing that she had left her shift early, around 3:30 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. when it actually ended. Halfway through the first video, Deputy X  hears noises so tiptoes to the bathroom door and flings it open, allegedly catching Mandoyan in the act of breaking in. In video two, she is still trying to get him out, as the audio portion of the video makes clear. When Mandoyan repeatedly asks Deputy X, “Where’re you going to find one?” he is reportedly referring to an earlier conversation in which she told him she wants to find a non-toxic relationship, or words to that general effect.

39 Comments

  • Burrito #1. Back in the news again. You guys “rat pack” anybody lately. After the indictments come down…..you guys can claim the hand ball courts in the administrative needs yard.

  • So the Chief of Staff was quietly removed because he was a reaper. Yet the Chief and Captain over ELA are also tattooed members of what the Sheriff previously called a gang. Although now the Sheriff has changed his tune and believes the tattoos signify a membership to the girl scouts. How will this look to the Feds? The real honest deputies at ELA have no chance.

  • C: A big nothing about nothing that we don’t already know. OIG has NO legal standing to do anything! So what if OIG doesn’t like the rehire! It’s not their call-if any member of OIG doesn’t like the rehire. I suggest running for sheriff! The deputy did what was alleged and the victim is nowhere to be found? Go talk to the resigned victim-you’re an investigative reporter go do your job! The deputy wasn’t charged(less convicted) with anything. If this case was so horrible then why wasn’t he prosecuted? Or are you suggesting that the DA was also corrupt? Why no criticism or condemnation of the DA? BTW: The court has already slapped OIG and County Counsel down. WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT FALSE CRIME MADE BY COUNTY COUNSEL?? You know the phone call???

    THE BOTTOM LINE WAS AND IS DOES THE SHERIFF(ANY SHERIFF) HAVE THE LEGAL AUTHORITY TO REHIRE OR HIRE ANYONE? YES HE/SHE DOES! THIS SHERIFF DIDN’T TRY TO HIDE ANYTHING OR ANYONE! THIS WAS ALL DONE IN THE OPEN. BUT, THE ELITES DIDN’T THINK VILLANUEVA HAD A CHANCE TO WIN. WHEN PITCHESS, BACA, MCDONNELL DID THIS CRAP WHERE WERE YOU AND THE PRESS? Your comments that OIG destroyed the sheriff’s arguments are way over played.

    Gangs: The LAT did a report on Devils from ELA (early 70’s) and then numerous articles on those aholes-Vikings. These gangs were predominately male white and what did Pitchess, Block, Baca and worse yet that moron McDonnell do about it? They promoted them! Ask about past corrupt Undersheriffs Stonich, Waldie and Tanaka? And now the bigoted media is trying to make this crap about “Latino” deputies? Latin is a language not a race of people. Go ask Dennis Slocumb about how he started the Vikings? And all other gangsters. And LAPD is worse? Double standard is well in play. This crap grew and grew under McDonnell and where was the press?

    Legality: This is not and never was a freedom of speech issue. Any department has the legal right to make you pay your bills, wear a uniform, regulate nearly all aspects of your behavior. And therefore making you remove these tattoo’s is legal. I would suggest retraining and recommit to your OATH OF OFFICE! Every briefing should start with the Pledge of Allegiance and reciting your oath.

    Last: Ok, you neo-progs and the usual suspect cop haters, you have had your way for decades in LA County and look at the mess. So, what would you do about this other than complain?

  • Defensiveness and deflection with “blasts from the past” makes your post all so obvious.

    Do uou have a State Bar number?

  • Blaine: This was started long ago and we must address this to solve this issue. My bar card number is none of your business!

  • Just Waite until the BOS and taxpayers (unbeknownst to them of course) foot the bil for Mr. Mandoyan’s lawsuit and related expenses. Their were no charges filed by thevDA’s office, and did receive Department punishment related to his policy violation….what more do you want. The rules of the system were followed…isn’t that what due process, fairness and playing by the rules is all about? Or is this just a personnel grudge against Sheriff Villanueva and Mr. Mandoyan? Sure looks, walks and quacks like duck.

    This has been the new norm it would seem. If you don’t get the outcome you want, beg borrow lie and steal and do whatever it to sway public opinion to your side.

    This whole is dare I say “Trump-like”, let’s just hope the courts remain fair and judges don’t allow their personnel beliefs and political leanings to “trump” their duty to be fair and impartial.

    • Conspiracy…

      “…Let’s just hope the courts remain fair….”

      Ay, there’s the rub–nobody has yet accused the courts of being unfair.

      Nobody.

      So why didn’t Carl Mandoyan appeal his adverse Civil Service Commission finding to the State & Federal Supreme Courts.

      Instead, he brownnosed his way around the adverse finding, and A.V. is made to look like he’s amenable to brown nosing.

      Them ain’t good optics, and put the Sheriff into a BAD light.

      Which, it looks like, will be permanent.

      • Great call, Conspiracy!
        Many deputies have refused to recognize “the elephant in the room”.

        On the Bandito issue or any other clique within in LASD, it’s going to take an outsider to clean it up, period.

  • Unfortunately the Banditos aren’t going anywhere. This has been such a major problem for the past year, and they are still 10-8 and in DB. Everyone knows who they are. They’ve transferred more people who were victims of the Bandidos, than actual Bandidos themselves. The ratio of Non-Banditos to Banditos at the station has actually gone up!! And the majority are still in influential spots (FTOs) where they can spread their influence and ideology to new Deps coming in. Even supervisors fear them. Why do you think supervisors don’t even wear jackets? Going to get interesting when the FBI interviews the Banditos and they start puffing their chests. We know how that played out in 2011. Wonder who will flip on everyone first and lay everything out to the feds. Feds are looking into the possibility that Banditos had to break the law to get inked. They probably googled “G-Rod”

  • Hey Celeste, care to reveal your sources who claim that there is an FBI investigation? How about this, why don’t you double check Maya Lau’s sources. Hint: there is no FBI investigation, but all the Villanueva haters would sure love that to be true.

      • Thanks for playing, but the COC is NOT a source of information. They are merely regurgitating Maya Lau’s claim. It turns out the “source” appears to be the very same deputies who filed a claim against the LASD, and that is not a legitimate source either. Wishing thinking doesn’t make it true. Anyone who has ever dealt with the feds knows damn well they don’t get involved in internal local politics unless there is a clear and compelling federal case to be made.

        • “…And that is not a legitimate source either.”

          Deputy statements made under oath are not legitimate sources of information?

          Bullshit.

          • What statement under oath? Elaborate please. BTW, going to the to whine about the LASD of Jim McBuckles doesn’t create a federal investigation. Try again.

  • Don’t know how it got so bad at ELA. Someone should have taken the “godfather” and Buritto #1 out to the tool shed and taught them some manners. Spare the rod. Spoil the child ( Bandito)

  • The IG pronounced Carl Mandoyan unfit for the position of Deputy Sheriff. Whether you agree or disagree with the Inspector General’s analysis, it’s clear Villanueva is willing to throw the entire Department under the bus to salvage the career of Carl Mandoyan.
    Why? What did Carl Mandoyan do for Villanueva during the campaign?
    A question worth exploring.

    The 2012 LASD Guidelines for Discipline say, “unfailing honesty is essential to the core function of a peace officer” But what about Villanueva’s integrity? There is little truth in anything Villanueva says. He makes up the facts. He almost seems more comfortable lying. The OIG report illustrates Villanueva’s lack of credibility. But he also lacks transparency.
    Who are the members of Sheriff Villanueva’s Truth and reconciliation committee?

    Lt Roel Garcia is assisting the Sheriff in manipulating the promotional process at all levels to ensure the right people get the right positions. The good news for those who lack merit, Merit is not a factor.

    Del Mese slithering away last week to hide under a new rock is notable, and right before the Feds jumped in.
    Good timing Larry!

    • Of all the deputies that should be reinstated minus the political hoopla, why Mandoyan?

      Talking heads on this site laughed at Baca and hated McDonnell but plead the 5th on Villanueva.

      Something stinks as department members feign ignorance while keeping their heads in the sand.

      The truest feelings are noted on Facebook.

      • Oh, I’m sure there have been others, his case was just the most “shocking and politically advantageous” for the BOS, media and LA political machine to gain traction with…so they think.

    • Really? Lt Garcia is manipulating the promotional process at all levels? Your an idiot. Go back and you “slither” to your hole. You are a complete fraud. Yea, YOU! Idiot.

  • At the very least, Dep. Mandoyan used such poor judgement that he cannot be trusted to work out in the field where he might endanger himself or the lives of others. Therefore, he should never have been rehired.

  • Long ago the Sheriff was asked, “Is this the hill you want to die on?” What is the unholy alliance between Mandoyan and the Sheriff? The damage that has been done to the Office of the Sheriff, to the Sheriff himself and to the Department as a whole and it has been nothing less than devastating. Yet, the Sheriff blows this off in the same manner he has blown everything else off, “I’m the Sheriff, I’ll do as I wish.” I truly think he has absolutely no concept of the damage he has done to his credibility, I mean it is shot. The OIG has completely blown out of the water, “If you knew what I know about this case, you would be singing a different tune.” I think we do know what he knows, and he knows nothing. You have the Commander with his, “I’ve read everything and this case is only worth a few days off.” You have the (now) retired IAB Lieutenant provide “her” interpretation of her own units investigation which does not square with the OIG report. You have Chief Ault’s email to the disgraced former Chief of Staff aka “Sheriff Del Mese” CLEARLY providing direction Alex Villanueva wanted the wheels in motion full speed to bring Mandoyan back. The Sheriff claiming Mandoyan didn’t receive any special treatment with his consideration for the laughable Truth and Reconciliation process. Vera (he is up to his eyeballs with Mandoyan and the Sheriff’s secret inner circle providing foolish guidance) and Murakami rubber stamped a finding to rehire Mandoyan at the direction of Del Mese and the Sheriff. This is going to haunt all three of these folks.

    So what is the connection? Insiders say it is “that relationship” the Sheriff has with Mandoyan. Folklore has it, Del Mese got into a couple of sideway conversations with Mandoyan. It appears Mandoyan did not care for the way Del Mese was talking to him. Mandoyan has a conversation with the Sheriff’s wife and lays out Del Mese. Mrs. Sheriff has a conversation with her husband, the Sheriff. The next business day, Monday, Del Mese is fired and sent to North Patrol to finish out his career. That is how fast it happened. Del Mese, a hardcore Tanaka follower, along with Vera, thought he was all that. Spoke to Assistant Sheriffs and the Undersheriff as if they were gas pump trustees, barked out orders as if he were on the throne himself. Mrs. Sheriff did the Sheriff a huge favor because Del Mese and Vera have been leading Alex down the path of destruction from Day One, and continue to do so. Just wait until the Banditos investigation gets going, you will see some very familiar names attached to it.

      • Because the Sheriff has allowed the Tanaka disciples of Del Mese and Vera to tell him how to do his job. Everything they have touched has turned to shit. They have lead him down the path of self-destruction. All the while, they are telling folks “they” are the ass to kiss. Narcissistic personalities are in abundance. Meanwhile, The Undersheriff and Assistant Sheriff’s have been kicked in the teeth by “Sheriff Del Mese” on a weekly basis to the point, they don’t care anymore. If the Sheriff finds himself as a one-term office holder like McD, he only needs to look in the mirror to discover why. It never should have been like this.

  • Not Again, I just finished reading Max Huntsman’s masterpiece, all 34 pages of it. While he may proclaim Mandoyan “unfit” for duty, I beg to differ. First, Max has a long history of bad work as an attorney. Rejected many a time for a coveted Superior Court bench, apparently the screeners have little regard for his legal acumen. Read no further than his last case, People v Christiansen (B252804), where Max had difficulty understanding that factual innocence means just that, you don’t get to argue that the factually innocent should still have a record, LOL. Apparently it took an appellate judge to explain to him how it works, and it not very nice terms.

    Now going through Max’s novel, I don’t see anything more than his cut and paste of the McDonnell era sham investigation. It would be wise for people to understand Max is not an independent anything, he is one of many attack dogs at the board of supervisors’ disposal. So all those Sheriff V haters, don’t be so disappointed that things are going well with the LASD, in spite of Sheila Kuehl’s best efforts.

  • So question of the day:
    Is CM currently working for the department?
    If so, in what capacity?
    Is he getting PAID?

    Poor Del Mese, finish his career as a CHIEF, how F…ing terrible. Laughing all the way to the bank.

    I used to think PT must have had compromising pics of Baca to keep his position, maybe CM has some on AV. Something keeps him valuable.

  • I hear great things are still being done by sworn and civilians on the department. I hope to hear a lot more- especially in the media.

    AV has a few good leaders who have earned their creds and have a great reputation still working on the Dept. He should be raising them up and listening to them more than he seems to be. One, I know and have worked with, is workimg in the same office as the Chief people are piling on about in other posts here.

  • Hey all, it’s been a while. I see the same ole retired grouches are still cackling. Love Sheriff AV. Can’t wait to take the next Lts exam, I’m a shoe in. Well, time to roll up those sleeves, flash that ink, supervise Deps, and chew my favorite tobacco products. Don’t like it? You know the rest.

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