A sheriff’s deputy who alleged he was retaliated against for exposing favorable treatment given to an inmate accused of stealing former Los Angeles Dodger catcher Jim Campanis’ 1988 World Series ring has settled his lawsuit against Los Angeles County.
Attorneys for plaintiff William Cordero filed court papers on June 7 with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Doyle stating that the case was resolved. No terms were divulged and the settlement is subject to Board of Supervisors approval, according to Cordero’s lawyer, Matthew McNicholas.
Cordero sued the county in July 2012. His complaint stated that in November 2010, La Verne police detectives recovered the ring and Campanis’ Rolex watch, both of which were stolen earlier that year from his golf bag while he was taking part in a charity tournament at Western Hills Golf Course in Chino Hills.
Police said the ring was found during a search of the home of Frank Jose Carrillo and the watch was found at an Ontario pawn shop.
According to his suit, Cordero had a coveted day-shift position at the sheriff’s Avalon Station on Catalina Island that included a 16.5% pay bonus. He alleged an administrator in the sheriff’s department used his influence to transfer Carrillo to Avalon and have him housed there to keep him out of the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles.
In July 2011, Capt. Jeff Donahue, who was the sheriff’s commanding officer on Catalina Island, had Carrillo’s jail uniform and wristband removed and replaced with civilian clothing, including a polo shirt and designer pants, the suit alleged.
Donahue then “illegally transported Carrillo to a local golf course where he was given golf lessons by Carrillo,” according to the suit.
After Carrillo told Cordero he went golfing with Donahue, the plaintiff complained to his supervising sergeant, who told him “people here need to realize that it’s not going to be good for them if they undermine the captain,” according to the plaintiff’s court papers.
Donahue wrote in the station jail log that Carrillo never left the station, the plaintiff alleges. Donahue later told Cordero that he had “cleared the golfing excursion with (then-) Sheriff Lee Baca after the Catalina Gold Star Dive fundraising event,” the suit says.
A photograph depicting Baca and Cordero was posted in the station with 27 negative comments about the plaintiff attached, according to Cordero’s court papers.
The harassment became so severe that a station dispatcher told Cordero that if an “officer down” call came in, “she hoped it was him,” according to Cordero’s court papers.
Cordero, a longtime LASD member, said he was temporarily loaned to the Marina del Rey Station. Cordero’s lawyers maintain that Cmdr. Todd Rogers approved the deputy’s transfer and that then-Undersheriff Paul Tanaka reneged on a promise to look further into their client’s complaints about his treatment.
Cordero maintained he experienced high blood pressure and heart damage because of stress over his treatment by the department.
Campanis, son of former Dodger general manager Al Campanis, played 46 games for the Dodgers from 1966-68 and was working for the team making speeches when it won the World Series in 1988.
In April 2018, former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department civilian employee Anthony Serena reached a settlement in his separate lawsuit in which he also alleged he was retaliated against for exposing favorable treatment to the same inmate.
In his lawsuit, ex-jailer Serena maintained that he reported Donahue’s alleged conduct to his supervisor, a sergeant who told him not to “undermine” the station captain.
Serena claimed he was harassed by a group of deputies who supported Donahue, was banned from ride-along patrols with deputies, was stripped of his stun gun and was written up for “poor interpersonal communications.”
Serena was told in February 2012 that he was on the captain’s “enemies list,” according to his lawsuit. He said he also was reassigned to the East Los Angeles Station, resulting in a 22% cut in pay and a commute time that was four times longer than in Catalina, and maintained that he was forced to quit in August 2015 after 21 years on the job.
Lawyers for Los Angeles County denied Serena’s allegations.
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