The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted to pay $1.275 million to settle a retaliation lawsuit brought by a former sheriff’s deputy who testified against colleagues involved in trying to “hide” a jailed FBI informant from federal agents.
That criminal conspiracy ended in convictions for 10 sheriff’s officials, including former sheriff Lee Baca, who is awaiting sentencing.
Tara Jan Adams alleged that she was threatened and denied promotions as a result of her testimony.
“Ms. Adams was the one deputy sheriff in the LASD who stood up to, and refused to cooperate in, a scheme orchestrated by, among others, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, to obstruct a federal investigation into illegal practices at the LASD,” according to Adams’ civil complaint filed in January 2016.
“She would be repaid for her acts of courage by shunning, threats and ultimately the termination of her career.”
Adams worked for the department from 2007 until June 14, 2014, when she was “constructively terminated” because she was afraid to return to work at the end of her maternity leave, according to her suit.
Adams, who handled records for the department, testified to a federal grand jury and at trial that deputies asked her in August 2011 to scrub the name of FBI informant Anthony Brown from the computer system.
When Adams refused, saying she needed a court order to do so, one deputy walked off with Brown’s records, she testified at trial.
That move was part of an elaborate attempt to make Brown unavailable to federal investigators.
If anyone searched for Brown — who had been sentenced to several life terms in state prison for a multitude of violent offenses — on the sheriff’s inmate computer system, it would show that he had been released, Adams said.
Brown became an informant after another inmate wrote to the FBI from inside the jail in 2010 and detailed instances of deputies using excessive force. Deputies discovered the link when Brown was caught with a contraband cell phone that tied back to the FBI.
Adams said her grand jury testimony, required by subpoena, led to threats.
“In or about March 2013, plaintiff was visited by Deputy (James) Sexton and another (Operation Safe Jails) deputy who informed her that they believed that she was in physical danger, that she should watch her back,” that she should always have her gun with her and be prepared to use it.
Adams went on pregnancy leave in September 2013 and testified at trial eight months later.
A month later, she asked for extended leave without pay, hoping that conditions in the department would eventually improve. She was denied the additional leave, which she alleged which was granted “as a matter of course” to other women at the end of their maternity leave.
“Plaintiff regarded … such refusal as effectively requiring her to resign her employment at LASD because she feared that her physical safety and the safety of her family would be jeopardized if she returned to work,” according to the suit.
The board approved the payout without comment.
No detail was provided by county counsel, which typically cites confidentiality in employment cases.
–City News Service
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