LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy whose reinstatement triggered a battle between the sheriff and the Board of Supervisors has filed a lawsuit against law enforcement officials and county leaders, alleging they withheld his pay and are unfairly trying to push him out of the department.
Caren Carl Mandoyan alleges in the civil lawsuit filed in federal court on Wednesday that his support for newly elected Sheriff Alex Villanueva and former sheriff candidate Jim Hellmold in the 2014 election has made him a target of retaliation, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The lawsuit names L.A. County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl, Hilda Solis, Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger, who endorsed McDonnell during the campaign. Former Assistant Sheriff Bobby Denham is also named.
Mandoyan was fired in 2016 by McDonnell after a fellow deputy alleged Mandoyan grabbed her by the neck, tried to break into her home and sent her harassing text messages. Prosecutors investigated the woman’s claims and looked at video evidence in the case but declined to charge Mandoyan with intimate partner violence.
Villanueva reinstated the deputy in his first weeks as sheriff after defeating McDonnell last fall in an upset that stunned the county’s political establishment. Mandoyan volunteered on Villanueva’s campaign, often publicly accusing McDonnell of running a corrupt department and challenging his competency as a leader.
Mandoyan filed a previous lawsuit last year against the county over his 2016 termination, but he agreed this year to drop the suit on the condition that he was rehired by the Sheriff’s Department. Before Mandoyan withdrew the suit, the county had agreed to pay him a settlement of $200,000, which is now in dispute. The deputy could also be due $500,000 in attorney fees, Villanueva told The Times in an interview Thursday.
Villanueva predicts the latest lawsuit will have an even larger price tag.
“Now, I guarantee we’re going to end up paying several million dollars, between what ultimately is going to be punitive damages, attorney costs on both sides, and the county is going to pick up the tab on this,” he said. “For what purpose? Because they saw an opportunity to take a shot at me, and nothing else.*
Louis “Skip” Miller, an attorney representing the county and the Board of Supervisors, called Villanueva’s statement absurd, adding that the sheriff’s loyalty and obligation are supposed to be with the county.
“Mandoyan was fired for breaking and entering, for assaulting a woman, for lying about it all,” said Miller, a partner at Miller Barondess. “These things were adjudicated before the civil services commission. He had full opportunity to challenge everything, and he lost. I don’t know why the sheriff would say something like that. This (lawsuit) is a totally concocted claim. It’s sour grapes.”
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