Judge rules fired LA County deputy will keep gun and badge for now

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Is Carl Mandoyan a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy or not?

Judge Mitchell Beckloff declined for now to overturn Sheriff Alex Villanueva's reinstatement of the deputy fired for allegedly stalking, spying on and physically assaulting his ex-girlfriend, who was also a deputy.

Attorneys for Los Angeles County maintain Mandoyan is not a deputy and that his reinstatement by Villanueva was "unlawful." It's risky business, they say, to put him back on patrol.

"A deputy who is no longer a deputy, who was discharged after going through the whole civil service process is holding himself out to be a deputy, and the sheriff is allowing it," said Skip Miller, attorney for the county.

"The judge said the sheriff better make sure that nothing happens, that's the sheriff's job," Miller said.

Mandoyan's attorney, Greg Smith, told reporters after court that not only is his client hanging on to his badge and gun, he will be paid despite the county stopping his paychecks.

MORE: Los Angeles County orders deputy rehired by Sheriff Villanueva to turn in badge, weapon
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L.A. County sheriff's Deputy Caren Carl Mandoyan was ordered to turn in his weapon and badge in what's become a showdown between Sheriff Alex Villanueva and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

"The sheriff has 100 percent control of the budget he's given by the Board of Supervisors, and he's going to get a paycheck," Smith said.

Beckloff ruled Wednesday that the county's concerns over Mandoyan's reinstatement did not warrant an emergency order.

Instead, both sides must return for a hearing in June and will brief on, among other things, whether Mandoyan was "rehired" or "reinstated."

County lawyers said there are rules that prevent the sheriff from unilaterally reinstating a deputy who was fired after going through the civil service process.

"The law is very clear," Miller said. "You just can't do it on your own."

The ruling on Wednesday is a victory for Sheriff Villanueva, who declined to answer questions when Eyewitness News caught up with him at the Hall of Justice.

"We're going to allow the court process to take its course and we don't comment on individual personnel matters," Villanueva told Eyewitness News reporter Miriam Hernandez before getting into an elevator.

The unprecedented standoff stems from accusations of domestic violence and stalking of the female deputy in September of 2014. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute, citing a lack of sufficient evidence.

Mandoyan was fired in 2016 by former Sheriff Jim McDonnell and his termination was upheld in 2018 after multiple hearings by the county's Civil Service Commission.

Court documents filed by Mandoyan argue that Villanueva was "righting a wrong" by the previous administration and that Villanueva's newly formed "truth and reconciliation" panel found that the previous discipline imposed against Mandoyan was "excessive."

Mandoyan's court filing includes a previously confidential memo on the "truth and reconciliation" panel's review of Mandoyan's termination.

The memo states that panel members met on December 21, 2018 to review the case and determined that the previous findings "lacked a factual and corroborated basis."

The memo argues that many of the charges against Mandoyan "had no independent witnesses or corroborating evidence."

Mandoyan declined to testify at his Civil Service Commission hearings, but was apparently interviewed by the "truth and reconciliation" panel.

The memo does not indicate that the panel re-interviewed the female deputy in their recent review of the accusations against Mandoyan.

"Nobody knows where she is," Smith said.

Smith adds his client "just wants to go back to work and serve the community."

"It's difficult," Smith said. "Nobody wants to be in this type of spotlight."

Smith notes that one of Villanueva's campaign promises was to "rectify the wrongs of the last administration and that's what he's trying to do."

Attorney for the county Skip Miller told reporters that the Civil Service Commission hearing was, "a five to six day hearing, witnesses testified, were cross-examined, exhibits were put into evidence."

The "truth and reconciliation" panel appears to have convened for one day on December 21, 2018.

The panel found that Mandoyan "behaved in an irrational, unprofessional, and impulsive manner, which not only brought embarrassment to himself, but to the Department."

However, the memo states that during his tenure Mandoyan was a "productive, well-respected, and highly valued deputy," whose work ethic and dedication was noted by co-workers and supervisors.

The panel found that some of the allegations against Mandoyan were founded, some were not and some were unresolved. Mandoyan told the panel he tried to enter the female deputy's apartment to apologize and to retrieve his backpack and/or keys.

The panel found "no evidence" that Mandoyan stalked the female deputy.

The memo states that although Mandoyan apparently listened to the female deputy "engage in a sexual relationship with another man" through her home security system, the female deputy consented to his access because she'd previously provided him with the password and did not later "expressly revoke his access."

The panel found that the charges did not "rise to the level of a discharge" and recommended that Mandoyan be reinstated to full duty as a deputy sheriff.

"Mr. Mondoyan (sic) can once again be productive member of the Department, with a bright future as a deputy sheriff."

Got a tip? Email ABC7 Investigative Producer Lisa.Bartley@abc.com.
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