LOS ANGELES () — Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has agreed to testify before the county’s Civilian Oversight Commission about deputy gangs next month after years of resisting subpoenas.
Villanueva, who is running for county supervisor against incumbent Janice Hahn, told Eyewitness News he’s ready to set the record straight. He maintains deputy gangs don’t exist.
The former sheriff has defied numerous subpoenas to appear in front of the Civilian Oversight Commission. At one point he said he feared for his safety.
But early next year, Villanueva will answer questions under oath. The commission has held hearings on deputy gangs, acknowledged they pose a significant problem and released a report on their history and the gangs currently in the department.
“They’ve painted this false image of the entire department and the men and women who are doing the hard work keeping the county safe,” Villanueva said. “I think we’re just going to have to reiterate the obvious. That water is wet. There are no deputy gangs.
“Are there subgroups or people that somehow occasionally engage in misconduct? Of course there are.”
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.
The Banditos group have reportedly controlled the East L.A. station for years.
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 will testify Jan. 12 at Loyola Law School and in less than three months, he will challenge Hahn in the March primary for L.A. County supervisor.
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