Appeals court rules Villanueva’s reinstatement of fired deputy was unlawful

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The California State Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s reinstatement of a deputy fired by the former sheriff was unlawful after years of legal proceedings.

When Villanueva was sworn in as Los Angeles County Sheriff in 2018, one of his first business acts was to reinstate Deputy Caren Mandoyan, who was fired by Sheriff Jim McDonnell after being charged with allegedly harassing and abusing his then-girlfriend. , who was also an MP at the time.

Video of the time shows Mandoyan trying to break into her home.

The scandal is one of the initial reasons that raised tensions between Villanueva and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisorsmost recently highlighted by warrants obtained by LASD to search the home of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and the offices of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

During a debate Wednesday night between sheriff candidates Villanueva and her competitor Robert Luna, the sheriff referenced the broken relationship.

“When the board of supervisors recruited eight candidates to run against me, they did it for one reason, because they want a puppet,” he said, pointing to Luna.

Now after a years-long battle in court against supervisorswhich said Villanueva had no authority to reinstate Mandoyan, the Court of Appeals rendered its decision, siding with the county.

In appeal documents released after the decision, the Court of Appeals said “…defendants argue…Mandoyan was eligible for rehiring as Deputy Sheriff. We disagree with these assertions. and affirm the judgment of the trial court.”

Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola University, discussed the case Thursday.

“When people started reading about the sheriff and his scandals, it was because he wanted to rehire someone because they were fired for cause,” she said.

Villanueva offered Mandoyan $200,000 in back pay in exchange for him giving up a Los Angeles County lawsuitsomething that was not approved by the county, prompting supervisors to bring Villanueva to justice.

“What the appeals court did today completely put an end to Sheriff Villanueva and his legal theories. They said he couldn’t enter into this amended settlement agreement without the blessing of the county council. They also said he was not allowed to try to rehire that deputy,” Levinson said.

The Los Angeles County attorney released a statement following the decision, which read in part: “The Court of Appeals … making it very clear that the sheriff – like all county officials – must act in accordance with the law.”

Sheriff Villanueva was unavailable for comment when CBS reached out Thursday night.

Robert Luna, however, released a statement saying, “The ruling is further evidence that the county has a rogue sheriff.”

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