May 02, 2013
City News Service
Two deputies are suing sheriff's officials, alleging that white supremacist gang inmates are being utilized to assault jail personnel who have fallen into disfavor with supervisors, according to court papers obtained Friday April 26. Deputies Michael Rathbun and James Sexton allege that Sheriff Lee Baca, outgoing Assistant Sheriff Paul Tanaka and others ``use these jail gangs as proxies or agents to retaliate against other (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department) deputies and inmates. Within these inappropriate alliances, the gangs are given certain privileges that are otherwise legally precluded from them.''
The federal complaint, which also names as defendants Lt. Greg Thompson and ``Detective Perkins,'' seeks damages on allegations of retaliation, constitutional violations, malicious prosecution, conspiracy and harassment.
Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said the lawsuit filed last week lacks merit. ``We don't believe this is grounded in fact,'' Whitmore said.
``We look forward to telling the whole story, and when the story is told and the complete picture put forth, we believe the department will be vindicated.''
Rathbun and Sexton say they worked in Operation Safe Jails, a unit that uses informants to help prevent gang violence in the jail system, and were supervised by Thompson. The two deputies allege that in August 2011, they were ordered by Baca and Tanaka to ``transfer and hide'' inmate Anthony Brown from the FBI ``in an effort to obstruct a federal investigation.''
The plaintiffs claim their superiors often ordered them ``to engage in activities meant to `keep the FBI out of the jails.'''
Rathbun and Sexton allege that when they reported their concerns to the FBI, they were verbally abused and threatened by members of the sheriff's department who were involved with white supremacist inmates. Sheriff's personnel, ``using jail gangs as their agents, labeled Rathbun and Sexton as `race traitors,' '' the lawsuit states.