Two deputies have brought a lawsuit against members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The lawsuit, filed by deputies James Sexton and Michael Rathbun, alleges that several members of the Sheriff's staff are members of a white supremacy gang and have gone to extensive lengths to hide certain prison inmates from the FBI. The deputies also claim that members of the department have covered up an incident involving a skinhead deputy, and threatened to kill the deputies if they exposed their gang involvement. The deputies say they have been called “race traitors” and “snitches” as well.
“An inappropriate relationship exists between certain LASD personnel and various inmate jail gangs, especially white supremacist,” the lawsuit says. “LASD personnel use these jail gangs as proxies or agents to retaliate against other LASD deputies and inmates. Within these inappropriate alliances, the gangs are given certain privileges that are otherwise legally precluded from them.”
The deputy’s lawsuit is being filed against the LASD, Sheriff Leroy Baca, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, Lt. Greg Thompson, and an individual listed as “Detective Perkins.” Lt. Thompson and Undersheriff Tanaka are allegedly members of the racist cop gang “The Vikings,” says the suit.
The allegations that the Sheriff’s office hid an inmate from the FBI stem from a 2011 incident at the Men’s Central Jail. At the time, an inmate was found to be an informant for the FBI. The informant was said to be collecting information on abusive and corrupt deputies from the Sheriff’s department. When LASD official’s found out about the informant, they reportedly immediately created an alias for the inmate and moved him to a different jail. Department officials then assigned 13 deputies to monitor the inmate informant for 24 hours a day. Deputies Rathbun and Sexton claim the moves were all made in an effort to “keep the FBI out of the jails.”
Another incident occurred in February of 2012 while Sexton and Rathbun were working with an intelligence unit called Operation Safe Jails (OSJ). This time, an informant told deputies Rathbun and Sexton that one of their fellow deputies was closely associated with a powerful white gang member from the prison. After OSJ members were made aware that Rathbun and Sexton knew about the deputy’s involvement with the gang member, they allegedly threatened to harm the deputies if they didn’t keep quiet.
When the gang member was moved to another prison, members of the OSJ blamed Sexton and Rathbun for “f**kingup their program.”
“At all relevant times, certain members of OSJ associated with, and cooperated with, certain jail gangs, including partaking in illicit activities,” the lawsuit says. “Sheriff Baca and/or Undersheriff Tanaka knew or should have known about these improper relationships, but took no action to stop it and implicitly ratified the improper conduct.”
The lawsuit also says that Undersheriff Tanaka encouraged police gangs while telling deputies to “operate outside the confines of the law, in contravention of state and federal laws.”
The lawsuit also claims the allegedly corrupt LASD members used white supremacist inmates to verbally abuse Rathbun and Sexton. “LASD personnel, using jail gangs as their agents, labeled Rathbun and Sexton as ‘race traitors,” the lawsuit says.
The allegations against the LASD culminated in the firing of Deputy Rathbun. Rathbun was recently arrested for drunk driving. He was fired following the charge, one that Rathbun says has been frequently overlooked for other LASD members. Rathbun’s charge was also upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony without warning.
Soon after his arrest, LASD staff leaked video of his DUI arrest to the public. Rathbun claims this was done in order “to discredit … and ruin his life.”
Rathbun and Sexton are officially accusing the LASD of retaliation, malicious prosecution, constitutional violations, and conspiracy and harassment.