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Why The LA District Attorney Said No To A Joint Corruption Task Force With The Sheriff

A screenshot of Sheriff Alex Villanueva at a press conference on COVID-19 Monday, March 16, 2020. (L.A. County Sheriff's Department)
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The draft memorandum of understanding arrived at DA George Gascón’s office last month. It proposed a joint task force to investigate public corruption, saying it would be a “force multiplier.”

The response from the DA’s office was, thanks, but no thanks.

“We do not want to compromise our ability to engage in that work in an independent manner,” Gascón spokesman Alex Bastian told us. He added that the DA’s Public Integrity Division, which investigates corruption, has “significant expertise.”

Villanueva did not respond to our request for comment on why he approached Gascón about a task force.

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On Feb. 27, the sheriff publicly endorsed an effort to recall Gascón, citing the DA's efforts to reduce prison sentences to address mass incarceration.

Meanwhile, Villanueva’s department is conducting criminal investigations into three current or former Sheriff’s watchdogs. He brushes aside questions about potential ethical conflicts: “The sheriff is empaneled according to the state constitution with investigative powers to investigate all crimes within L.A. County,” he told us.


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