Grand jury in OC says claims of illegal jailhouse informant program are a 'myth'

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The nearly yearlong investigation looked into the ongoing allegations of an illegal snitch program used by the Orange County district attorney and sheriff's department. (KABC)

A grand jury review into the use of jailhouse informants in Orange County was released Tuesday, and calls the scandal a "myth."

The nearly year-long investigation looked into the ongoing allegations of an illegal snitch program used by the county's district attorney and sheriff's department.

"Allegations of a corrupt district attorney's office conspiring with the sheriff's department to violate citizen's constitutional rights are unfounded," said Orange County Grand Jury foreperson, Dr. Carrie Carmody.

The grand jury puts the blame on a few "rogue deputies" for misconduct related to jailhouse snitches. The report said poor leadership at both the D.A. and sheriff's department exacerbated the issues.

"The lack of proper supervision and appropriate policies allowed this to continue longer than it should have," Carmody said.

The report said informants have been used, but the instances happen "organically" indicating there is no formal, structured program.

The question of jailhouse informants has been brought up in two high profile cases, convicted killer Daniel Wozniak and Seal Beach mass murderer Scott Dekraai.

"To write this report as if this was a search for the truth is not credible," said Scott Sanders, of the Orange County Public Defender's Office.

Sander's allegations of illegal informants and withholding of records prompted a judge to remove the D.A.'s office from the penalty phase of Dekraai's trial.

As evidentiary hearings continue, a number of deputies first pleaded the fifth on the stand.

"To make this kind of claim, 'we now are the deciders, we have found that it was all a coincidence' is embarrassing," Sander said.

Sanders said the grand jury did not know enough and there wouldn't be a "playbook for an illegal informant program."

Statements from the D.A. and sheriff's Department said the report confirmed their denial all along.

"It is really a shame because it will be used as a sword by agencies like the sheriff's department and the D.A.'s office," Sanders said.

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newsgrand juryinvestigationjailscandalorange county sheriff's departmentinmatesSanta AnaOrange County
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