Friday, September 14, 2018
Supervisors to Decide if Ex-Jailer Deserves $500,000 in Whistleblower Claim
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A former civilian jailer who says he was placed on the “enemies list” of a Sheriff’s Department captain for terming his conduct illegal, and was then subjected to job retaliation, will receive $500,000 to settle his whistleblower action against Los Angeles County if a recommendation of the Claims Board is adopted by the Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to address the matter on Tuesday.
Also coming before the supervisors Tuesday is a recommendation that they authorize payment of $250,000 to a woman who was injured while roller-blading on a county beach access road.
Ex-jailer Anthony Serena, represented by attorneys John C. Taylor and Louanne Masry of Taylor & Ring, LLP, brought his action on April 7, 2014. He claimed that he was yanked from his “coveted position as a custody assistant jailer at the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department Avalon Station on Catalina Island” and shifted to the East Los Angeles Station—resulting in a pay cut of about 22 percent and a boost in commuting time of roughly 400 percent—as punishment for criticizing conduct of Capt. Jeff Donahue.
Senena contends the reprisal stemmed from telling his supervisor, Sgt. Fernando Vasquez, on or about July 16, 2011, that he thought Donahue’s conduct in according preferential treatment to an inmate, Frank Carrillo, a former golf pro, was unlawful. According to the complaint, on or about July 14, Donahue “had Mr. Carrillo’s yellow jumpsuit and wristband removed,” had him “outfitted in civilian golf clothes, including a polo golf shirt and Dockers pants,” and “then illegally transported Carrillo to a local golf course where he was given golf lessons by Carrillo.”
At the time, Carrillo, who later confirmed the report, was awaiting trial on a charge of stealing a 1988 World Series ring from former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Jimmy Campanis—who played for the team from 1966-68, was a spokesman for it in 1988, and is son of former Dodger General Manager Al Campanis—as well as other thefts. He pled guilty to six counts on Dec. 13, 2011.
The complaint alleges that since his hiring in October 1994, up until his comments to Vasquez, Serena had received laudatory evaluations.
Adverse Actions Alleged
The pleading says (with paragraph numbering omitted):
“Shortly after Plaintiff’s complaint of the illegal activity, Plaintiff was subjected to a series of harassing actions by a group of deputies who supported the Captain. In addition, Plaintiff was restricted from engaging in ride-alongs with Sheriff’s deputies, had his duty-issued Taser weapon taken away from him, and was removed from being in charge of the ‘[trusty]’ or inmate worker. Plaintiff was also advised by Vasquez that ‘the Captain is pissed off’ at him.
“On or about July 29, 2011, Plaintiff is written up for alleged poor interpersonal communications and attempting to undermine the authority of the Captain of the Station. Plaintiff was not provided a copy of the write-up.
“In or about September 2011, an internal affairs investigation is opened against Plaintiff for allegedly lying in a report done back in approximately January of 2011.”
The county, represented by Tomas A. Guterres and David C. Moore of the South Pasadena law firm of Collins Muir + Stewart LLP, responded to the unverified complaint with a general denial, followed by 35 affirmative defenses.
The case, before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barbara M. Scheper, is pegged as having been settled, with a hearing slated for Oct. 16, to be held only if the supervisors do not approve the accord.
In a similar action filed in 2012, Sheriff’s Deputy William Cordero claimed that he encountered retaliation after faulting Donahue for going off with an inmate to play golf. His action is pending in the courtroom of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John P. Doyle.
In the other proposed settlement coming before the supervisors for approval, the Board of Claims suggests giving Kimberly Potter $250,000 because on May 24, 2015, she was injured from a fall while rollerblading at Dockweiler Beach, and surgery ensued. Although a report notes that she “was engaged in the hazardous activity of rollerblading on an access road that was not suitable for this purpose,” the payment was recommended because there was a crack in the pavement and the road had not been subjected to quarterly inspections.
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