COMPTON, Calif. — The city of Compton is seeking millions of dollars in damages from Los Angeles County, accusing deputies at the city's sheriff's station of fraudulent billing, potentially going back to the station's inception in 2000.
What You Need To Know
- The city is seeking to recover wrongfully billed funds going back 21 years, which could be tens of millions of dollars
- Detectives used city-funded minutes to pay for unauthorized services leading to overtime and fewer patrol cars on the street, the suit alleges
- Sheriff Alex Villanueva previously told Spectrum News 1 his department was conducting an audit and had boosted the number of deputies working in the city during the pandemic
- The lawsuit stems from an anonymous letter sent by a whistleblower to Compton's city attorney in February
The fraud allegations stem from an anonymous letter sent by a whistleblower in February alleging the fraud resulted in fewer patrol cars on the street and overtime for deputies — all on the city's dime.
Compton City Attorney Damon Brown filed the lawsuit alleging breach of contract, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, concealment, false promise and unfair competition Wednesday in LA Superior Court.
"The complaint that was filed today in the Los Angeles Superior Court contains credible and specific allegations that expose a concerted plan by individuals at all levels in the Sheriff's Department which, for decades, has been designed to defraud Compton residents of their hard-earned tax dollars," Brown said in a statement to Spectrum News 1.
"My office is unwaveringly committed to the pursuit of justice on behalf of the residents of Compton, each of whom has the rightful expectation of protection and service by the Sheriff Department, and that every penny of the $24M they pay for municipal law enforcement services is being properly appropriated according to the service levels set forth in the contract."
Spectrum News 1 has reached out to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for comment and will update this article once we receive a statement.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva previously told Spectrum News 1 his department was conducting an audit and had boosted the number of deputies working in the city during the pandemic.
Compton agreed to pay roughly $23 million for 7 million minutes of 'deputy sheriff' crime suppression and 858,720 minutes of Special Assignment crime suppression while other services are supposed to be paid by the county, according to the lawsuit.
Deputies not listed on the in-service patrol roster would regularly log on to use city minutes, according to the city's complaint, which alleges the fraud can be proven by comparing the roster with billed minutes.
The lawsuit estimates 90% of detectives who billed the city were committing fraud.
The city is seeking to recover wrongfully billed funds going back 21 years, which could be tens of millions of dollars.
At a May news conference announcing the initial claim against the county, outgoing Mayor Aja Brown said anecdotal reports from residents supported the whistleblower's claims.
"The number of complaints from residents over a lack of responsiveness for calls for service has skyrocketed," she told Spectrum News 1.
The "minutes fraud" accusations come on the heels of a deputy gang scandal in Compton, where a separate whistleblower, Deputy Art Gonzalez, claimed under oath that a tattooed deputy clique called the "Executioners" ran the station.
He said deputies had to be involved in a shooting to join the clique, which led to more aggressive tactics and evidence tampering by deputies in Compton.