A former Orange County sheriff’s deputy has been indicted for allegedly filing a false police report in connection with the evidence booking scandal in which many deputies failed to file evidence or did so long after an incident.
Edwin Mora is charged with a felony count of filing a false report, according to court records. He pleaded not guilty Aug. 13 and is due in court Sept. 22 for a pretrial hearing at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun released the following statement about Mora’s indictment.
“This case, as well as 14 others, were investigated by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for criminal filing consideration,” Carrie Braun, the director of the department’s Public Affairs and Community Engagement Division, said in a statement.
“All of the cases were rejected for prosecution by the District Attorney’s Office. After the rejection of the cases, the sheriff’s department completed its internal administrative investigation.
“As a result, Mr. Mora was dismissed from employment in August 2019. In November 2019, following media reports regarding the evidence audit, the district attorney requested the department’s criminal investigation case files back for reconsideration.”
“We have taken this issue and the associated investigations very seriously, held employees accountable who did not meet performance expectations, and have implemented multiple safeguards to ensure this will not happen in the future. The charges filed speak to the integrity of the investigation that was conducted by the Sheriff’s Department nearly three years ago.”
A message left with Mora’s attorney, Robert J. Hickey, was not immediately returned.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement that “when law enforcement officers cross the line into criminal behavior, my administration has and will continue to file criminal charges, whether it is directly filing charges or going to the grand jury to seek an indictment.”
“It is not acceptable for men and women who swore an oath to serve the public and uphold the law to flaunt their authority and break the very laws they are sworn to enforce,” the statement said.
“No one — especially someone who the public has bestowed their ultimate trust — is above the law.”
According to Braun’s statement, “numerous protections have been implemented” since the completion of the first evidence audit.
“The department has created a new records division, updated technology and procedures for the evidence booking system, and created additional layers of process and oversight to ensure evidence is correctly booked,” the statement said.
In June, two former deputies, Joseph Anthony Atkinson Jr., 39, and Bryce Richmond Simpson, 31, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of willful omission to perform their official duty. The fired deputies were sentenced to a year of informal probation.
The evidence scandal unearthed by Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders has sparked a conflict between Sheriff Don Barnes and Spitzer, who has claimed the sheriff surprised him with the issue, while Barnes has argued that prosecutors earlier rejected charges against any of the deputies accused of sloppy evidence booking.
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