A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who was fired over domestic violence allegations but rehired after Alex Villanueva was elected sheriff would have to surrender his badge, uniform and weapon under a tentative ruling that a judge could potentially finalize next week.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff told attorneys for Villanueva, Deputy Caren Mandoyan and the county on Friday that he wanted more time to review the issues before finalizing his ruling.
But Beckloff prepared a 12-page tentative ruling, which would require Mandoyan to “cease to hold himself out as a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff,” while also forcing him to relinquish all county property in his possession, including department-issued uniforms, badge and weapon. The order would also require Villanueva and the sheriff’s department to stop recognizing or presenting Mandoyan as a deputy or county employee.
Villanueva has repeatedly defended bringing Mandoyan back to the department, questioning the allegations against the deputy and accusing the county’s Civil Service Commission of ignoring evidence that could have cleared Mandoyan of wrongdoing.
Mandoyan, who worked on Villanueva’s campaign, was fired in 2016 following allegations of domestic violence, stalking and harassment of a woman he dated. According to an Office of Inspector General report released earlier this year, the sheriff’s department also found that Mandoyan lied to Internal Affairs investigators.
Villanueva’s decision to rehire Mandoyan outraged members of the Board of Supervisors, who filed a lawsuit seeking to nullify the action. Beckloff in March declined the county’s request for a temporary restraining order voiding Mandoyan’s rehiring.
But in his tentative ruling released Friday, Beckloff said Villanueva did not have the authority to reach a legal settlement with Mandoyan that resulted in his rehiring by the department, noting that such an action needed to be approved by the Board of Supervisors.
Attorneys for Villanueva have argued that the sheriff was told by County Counsel that he had the authority to rehire deputies and review the agency’s past disciplinary actions against deputies. But Beckloff notes in his tentative ruling that Villanueva was repeatedly told by one of his undersheriff’s that he “couldn’t hire Mandoyan back the way he wanted to do it.”
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