Ex-deputy says he was fired after refusing to affiliate with alleged deputy gang

A former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy said he was fired after refusing to participate in law enforcement gang activities, according to a complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court .

Federico Carlo, the former lawyer behind the lawsuit, claims he was wrongly accused of making a Nazi salute and sharing a sexually explicit photo, then “brutally fired” by a “deputy member from a gang of tattooed regulator” who is now the acting commander overseeing the training. and personal.

The acting commander, Capt. John Pat Macdonald, did not respond to a request for comment, and the department did not respond to questions about whether he had or had a regulator tattoo.

“The department has not formally received this complaint but strives to provide a fair and equitable work environment for all employees,” officials wrote in an emailed statement to The Times. “Any acts of retaliation, harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated and are a violation of department policy and values.”

Neither Carlo nor his attorney have commented for this story. Carlo sued the county and is seeking unspecified damages.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has long been plagued by allegations that some of its top officials sport tattoos depicting exclusive deputy subgroups. Last month, former Undersheriff Tim Murakami admitted under oath that he once had a tattoo associated with an East Los Angeles station band known as the Cavemen.

Last year, the Capital & Main news site reported that current Undersheriff April Tardy admitted to having a station tattoo that some in the department believed stood for the deputy V Boys gang. And in 2022, Larry Del Mese, chief of staff to former Sheriff Alex Villanueva, publicly admitted his membership in the Grim Reapers.

Yet last week, sheriff’s officials told the Times that the problem “does not reflect the entire department” and noted that “several deputy gang-related investigations” are currently underway and that a new anti-gang policy is currently underway. -gang is currently negotiating with the deputy. unions.

For decades, the Sheriff’s Department was beset by allegations that gangs of deputies trampled certain precincts and jail floors. The groups are known by nicknames such as the Executioners, the Vikings and the Regulators, and their members often have the same numbered tattoos in order.

The group at the center of Carlo’s trial, the Regulators, is generally affiliated with the Century Sheriff’s Office in Lynwood. It is one of the oldest deputy subgroups in the department, and is commonly represented by the symbol of a skeleton wearing a cowboy hat. In recent years, there have been some indications – notably in a study by Rand Corp. ordered by county attorneys — that the group is no longer actively adding new members. However, at the end of last year, surveillance officials spotted a sticker from regulators outside the Century Regional Detention Center, next to the police station.

The complaint filed in late February dates Carlo’s problems back to 2005, when, he claims, a deputy who was then head of the Regulators called him a “rat” because he refused to lie about probable causes.

A few years later, according to the lawsuit, two other alleged regulators removed Carlo from training for the airborne division, which he said “had everything to do” with the fact that he “was not a member of a gang of deputies and refused. break the law. »

As of mid-2019, Carlo was working at the department’s Emergency Vehicle Operations Center in Pomona as an instructor. He clashed with some of the other instructors who he felt were risking their safety by taking shortcuts to save time. After he complained and asked to be moved to another team, tension began to rise between him and some of the other instructors — one of whom challenged him to a fight, according to the lawsuit. Later, that same deputy allegedly caused trouble, once by disrupting a class Carlo was teaching and another time by nearly crashing a patrol car into another deputy.

Eventually, Carlo reported the problems to his superiors. During a meeting with his lieutenant in 2022, Carlo reportedly told him that there had been “numerous vehicle collisions” caused by instructors and that he was even injured in one of those collisions. According to the lawsuit, when Carlo asked why the lieutenant didn’t do more to supervise the training, the lieutenant ordered him to rewrite the unit’s safety instructions and give a briefing to the entire unit on this subject.

In March of that year, according to the lawsuit, Carlo discovered that a complaint had been filed against him, alleging that he had given a Nazi salute while talking about a sergeant with a German-sounding name.

A few weeks later, according to the complaint, Carlo was temporarily transferred out of the unit while authorities investigated the complaint. Towards the end of the summer, Carlo’s lieutenant called him to tell him he would be returning to the training center. But he backtracked a few days later because another complaint was filed against him, this time for sexual harassment.

It appeared that after the unit briefing that Carlo’s lieutenant had asked him to do earlier that year, two of the deputies present had started talking and allegedly realized that Carlo had shown them both a explicit photo on his phone. They said he implied it was an image of him and a female sergeant, according to the lawsuit. One of the deputies was the instructor who had previously challenged Carlo to combat.

“This was false,” the complaint states. “No such photo ever existed.”

Although in 2022 officials closed the complaint about the Nazi salute — an accusation that Carlo also denied — they continued to investigate the sexual harassment claim, according to the complaint. In 2023, after what the lawsuit describes as “years of retaliation, harassment (and) discrimination,” Carlo was fired.

“On April 13, 2023, Plaintiff was terminated under false pretenses,” the suit states. “Captain Pat (Macdonald), the supervisor who made the decision to terminate the plaintiff, is a tattooed deputy member of the Regulator gang.”

Department officials confirmed to the Times that Carlo “parted ways with the department” last April after an internal investigation. But they have not commented on the accusations about Macdonald’s alleged Regulators tattoo, and they have not answered questions about whether he is still suspected of having it.

Regulators have long been the subject of allegations of misconduct. Nearly two decades ago, The Times reported allegations that members of the group extorted money from other deputies, behaved like gang members and controlled shift scheduling and station administration.

At the time, some members of the department compared the Regulators to the old Lynwood Vikingsa now-defunct group once described by a federal judge as a “white supremacist neo-Nazi gang.”

Lawmakers with tattooed regulators then told the Times that they had done nothing inappropriate and had been unfairly vilified. They said their ink represents a tight-knit group of hard-working lawmakers.

“It’s like the stars of a baseball team” a tattooed MP said at the time. “You get the best.”

California Daily Newspapers

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