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By Brian Hews
The Los Angeles Times, on March 7, published a story about how the ACLU and three other groups have gone to court to support Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s attempt to obtain names of deputies found to have committed serious misconduct on the job.
The move was the latest in a fight over a secret list of 300 deputies whose history of misconduct would damage their credibility if they were ever called to testify in criminal court.
The LA Times wrote, “The department warned about 300 deputies in October that their personnel files contained evidence of ‘moral turpitude.’ The letters said such acts could include accepting bribes or gifts, misappropriating property, tampering with evidence, lying, obstructing investigations, falsifying records, using unreasonable force, discriminatory harassment and family violence.”
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS), has fought against handing the list over for a long time.
According to their website, ALADS was formed in February 1970 by ten Deputies who joined together to collectively resolve a dispute. They also raise money every year for the families of fallen Deputies.
So it came as a shock to many in Los Angeles when ALADS sued McDonnell in Superior Court court to keep that list of “morally corrupt” cops private.
Under the Brady decision, defendants must know if the deputy testifying for the prosecution has committed moral turpitude, it reflects on the credibility of the deputy’s testimony against the defendant.
But the fact that ALADS is fighting to keep these cops’ illegal actions secret did not stop Cerritos City Council candidate Chuong Vo from taking a massive $5,000 for his City Council campaign from ALADS.
Vo is also heavily supported by Bruce Barrows and termed-out Cerritos Councilwoman Carol Chen.
Vo is showing a pattern similar to 2013 when he took equally questionable donations.
Vo solicited $2,500 from Deiter Dammeier and Saku Ethir, partners in a law firm that was implicated in a high-profile lawsuit filed by two Costa Mesa councilmen.
Ethir was also suspended from the State Bar in 2013.
The two lawyers were sued for taking part in a scheme to frame two city councilmen because negotiations between the police union they represented and the city broke down.
Vo publically denied he took money from the two men at a later candidate’s forum even though he entered the donations on his campaign finance documents.
Vo, it was found, also had bogus endorsements on his 2013 website.
The website boasted major endorsements from then-Cerritos Councilmen Bruce Barrows, George Ray, then-Artesia Councilmen Ali Taj and Tony Lima, Cerritos Mayor Bob Hughlette, and ABC School Board Member Soo Yoo.
All were sent emails asking for comment. Only Artesia Councilman Ai Taj responded.
Bringing into question the endorsements Vo exhibited on his website, an irate Councilman Taj told HMG-CN, “I am very surprised at this. I have endorsed only two candidates, my endorsement does not include Chuong Vo. ”
Hews Media Group-Community News, after the reading the March 7 LA Times article, contacted Vo for comment.
HMG-CN asked Vo what he thought of the union’s actions protecting “morally corrupt” cops and whether he would give the $5,000 donation to his campaign back to ALADS.
No response was given at the time of publication of this article.
“Criminal trials are not games where the prosecution and law enforcement are permitted to withhold information that helps the defense,” Peter Eliasberg, chief counsel at the ACLU of Southern California, said in a news release.
“It is essential to the right to a fair trial that the prosecutor inform the defense if there is potentially exculpatory or impeachment evidence in an officer’s personnel file, including conclusions by the department that an officer has filed a false report or lied on the witness stand,” he said.
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