LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Along with the uncertainty of his re-election campaign, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva now faces possible criminal contempt charges for failing to comply with subpoenas from last fall.
The Civilian Oversight Commission, a Sheriff's Department watchdog, issued them to try and get Sheriff Villanueva to testify under oath, on two main things:
Deputy gangs, and the allegation that he harasses, intimidates and sometimes investigates people who are critical of him.
Villanueva agreed to appear in certain cases and under circumstances, like testifying voluntarily and not under oath, describing the Oversight Commission as political theater.
The tension frustrated its members in a September 2021 meeting, one of the three in this court case. Back then, civilian oversight commissioner Robert Bonner called the back-and-forth "ridiculous."
Villanueva and his attorney believe the subpoenas were improper and that it's up for the court to decide. They declined requests for interviews on the matter.
"The ultimate question the court is going to answer is whether the sheriff is going to be held in contempt, and whether to order him to appear in our next meeting," said Brian Williams, the commission's executive director.
Williams also looks forward to the judge deciding at the November 21st court hearing, in hopes the commission can move forward with its investigations -- at least, for now.
Villanueva's re-election is yet to be determined, with the latest update showing him trailing Robert Luna by more than 200,000 votes.
ABC7 asked Williams what oversight and authority the commission has should Villanueva lose his title as sheriff.
"I think that's ultimately a question that the courts are going to have to answer," said Williams. "But I want to make clear: Our issue is not with the sheriff specifically. We're fighting issues we think are institutional."