A Los Angeles County sheriff’s captain is suing the county, alleging he was wrongfully denied a return of his concealed weapons permit that would have allowed him to transfer to a public safety director job with the city of Lancaster that he sought as part of a settlement agreement of an Internal Affairs Bureau probe.
Capt. Donald Rubio’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit allegations include retaliation and breach of contract. He seeks unspecified damages. An LASD representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Thursday, June 8.
“Whistleblowers are supposed to be protected by state and federal statutes and are supposed to be safe from retaliation,” the lawsuit states. “However, the whistleblowers, such as plaintiff Donald Rubio, are not safe in LASD and are not protected by the county.”
While some past sheriffs have retaliated against whistleblowers, former Sheriff Alex Villanueva took vindictiveness, revenge and retaliation to a whole other level, leading to about two dozen ongoing whistleblower lawsuits against the county, Rubio’s complaint states. Shortly after his promotion to captain, Rubio, on the advice of his union, in July 2020, filed a grievance for allegedly not being paid the wages owed for someone of his rank, upsetting Villanueva and then-Undersheriff Tim Murakami, the lawsuit states. Rubio also reported that a commander who he considered a Villanueva loyalist had allegedly committed fraud regarding a community college contract with the LASD, the suit states.
Retaliation against Rubio started soon after reporting the alleged fraud and for filing the grievance on wage theft, according to the suit. He was told he was being investigated for a criminal matter involving a former girlfriend who is the mother of his son, an accusation for which he was not charged, according to the suit.
The commander later became chief of Rubio’s unit and refused to take his phone calls, then relieved him of duty while he was on vacation and engaged in further retaliation against him, the suit states. Even though Rubio believed that he could defeat what he deems were fabricated Internal Affairs Bureau findings in a Civil Service hearing for allegedly facilitating the visitation of his son’s mother, he accepted a proposed settlement from the county with a “constructive termination through forced retirement.”
He planned on retiring early from the LASD and taking the city of Lancaster job, which would have paid him $200,000 annually, the suit states. However, the county did not return Rubio’s concealed weapons permit, which he needed for the Lancaster job, the suit states.
“Clearly, plaintiff was denied (the concealed weapons permit) out of spite and retaliation,” the suit alleges. ” The county has long been on notice of Sheriff Villanueva’s tactic of retaliating against whistle blowers who report misconduct.”
Rubio has appealed the denial of the permit, but no hearing has been held and he continues to suffer retaliation, according to the suit.