LOS ANGELES – A judge who previously ordered Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to appear before the Office of Inspector General and answer questions about so-called deputy gangs said Wednesday he will conduct a follow-up hearing on the issue next month because county attorneys allege Villanueva did not fulfill his obligations during the first OIG session.
The latest hearing was originally set for Sept. 27, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Malcolm Mackey delayed it until Oct. 28 to give Villanueva’s attorneys more time to respond to county’s latest effort to compel his testimony.
Harvinder Anand, a lawyer for the county, did not object to the delay in the hearing, which Villanueva’s lawyers maintained was necessary because the county’s motion was filed Friday, just before the Labor Day weekend and only 16 days before the Sept. 27 date.
In his earlier ruling on April 4, Mackey denied a motion by Villanueva’s attorney, Linda Miller Savitt, to quash the OIG’s Feb. 25 subpoena.
“He should testify under oath and I’m ordering him to do so,” the judge said.
Savitt argued the sheriff has always been willing to voluntarily appear before the OIG, but was challenging the magnitude of the OIG’s subpoena power. She said during the April hearing that Villanueva does not believe Inspector General Max Huntsman should be “whipping out subpoenas because he thinks he can so he can grandstand.”
But in his court papers, Anand maintains that when the OIG hearing was held on April 22, Villanueva and his three attorneys “improperly obstructed” attempts to examine Villanueva “by interposing countless objections, including lengthy speaking objections, consuming approximately 46% of the OIG’s examination time.”
Alleged deputy secret societies or “deputy gangs” have “bedeviled the LASD for decades” and Villanueva admitted during the OIG’s examination that one group, the Banditos, “ran roughshod over the previous captain of the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s station, where the Banditos worked, and that the sheriff needed to clean house” in that station, Anand states in his court papers.
Yet Villanueva has refused to testify about the Banditos’ alleged actions since he took office in 2018 and also has declined to provide any information about 43 employees the sheriff states he transferred out of East Los Angles Station as part of “cleaning house,” Anand further states in his court papers.
The Banditos are alleged to have carried out assaults on other deputies during a 2018 department party at Kennedy Hall in East Los Angeles.