LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- After years of resisting subpoenas, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva testified on Friday about deputy gangs in the department.
He testified under oath before the county's Civilian Oversight Commission at Loyola Law School.
Last year, a report by the commission found at least half a dozen deputy gangs or cliques are active in the sheriff's department.
Villanueva has insisted that deputy gangs do not exist.
In Friday's testimony, he explained what he did when he found out that the chief of Central Patrol testified that the Banditos group met the definition of a law enforcement gang.
"We conducted a very thorough internal affairs investigation that resulted in the termination of four deputies. One retired during that process, and then the suspension without pay of 22 deputies," said Villanueva. "Then we transferred a group of people, so we actually did quite a bit. However, that didn't make them gang members."
The Banditos group has reportedly controlled the East L.A. sheriff's station for years -- something Villanueva denies.
A few years ago, the Banditos allegedly attacked several younger deputies after a department party. In a government claim, one deputy says he was beat and choked into unconsciousness.
Villanueva was replaced by Sheriff Robert Luna, who ran on eradicating gangs and cliques within the department by enforcing consequences. At previous hearings, some members of the Sheriff's Department with close ties to Villanueva said they were associated with deputy gangs.
Friday's testimony comes as Villanueva is running for the County Board of Supervisors against incumbent Janice Hahn.
He told ABC7 that the commission has painted a false image of the entire sheriff's department. However, the former sheriff acknowledged that there are subgroups within the department who ocassionaly engage in misconduct, but he says the department is not unique.