Fired deputy reinstated by Sheriff sues county

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Los Angeles County leaders must now contend with a new development in the saga of Caren Carl Mandoyan, the Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy once accused of domestic violence, fired in 2016 by then-Sheriff Jim McDonnell and reinstated earlier this year by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

The lawsuit against L.A. County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl, Hilda Solis, Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger, as well as Former Assistant Sheriff Bobby Denham, alleges Mandoyan’s pay has been withheld, according to court documents. Mandoyan campaigned for Villanueva last year among rank-and-file deputies, and often accused McDonnell of running a corrupt department. Now, he says his outspoken support for Villanueva has made him a target.

County officials have disagreed, however.

“Your reinstatement was unlawful,” Auditor-Controller John Naimo said in a letter dated March 9, demanding that Mandoyan turn in his gun and badge. Additionally, Naimo said Villanueva did not even have authority to reinstate Mandoyan. The county attempted to place an injunction on Villanueva’s hiring powers, but was blocked by a judge in early March.

Mandoyan was fired in 2016 by McDonnell after allegedly grabbing a fellow deputy by the neck, trying to break into her home and harassing her via text message. Although prosecutors investigated, they declined to file charges. A county appeals board heard evidence and upheld the dismissal, which Villanueva reversed soon after his victory over McDonnell.

Louis “Skip” Miller, an attorney representing the county and the Board of Supervisors, called Villanueva’s statement absurd, adding that the sheriff’s loyalty and obligation are supposed to be with the county.

“Mandoyan was fired for breaking and entering, for assaulting a woman, for lying about it all,” said Miller, a partner at Miller Barondess. “These things were adjudicated before the civil services commission. He had full opportunity to challenge everything, and he lost. I don’t know why the sheriff would say something like that. This (lawsuit) is a totally concocted claim. It’s sour grapes.”

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