Malibu/Lost Hills deputy says he wore wire for FBI

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Badge 

A veteran deputy of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff ’s Station said he wore a wire for the FBI last month, secretly recording a department supervisor as part of an investigation into allegations of improper fundraising.

Deputy Edwin Tamayo, who worked at the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff ’s station from 2007 until he was placed on leave in February, said FBI agents asked him to wear the wire after he revealed to them that a captain at the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s station told him and other subordinates at the station to sell tickets to a 2011 fundraiser for Carmen Trutanich’s unsuccessful bid for district attorney. Tamayo did not say which department supervisor the FBI had asked him to record.

The story was first reported by the Los Angeles Times last week.

According to the Times, while federal authorities have used wires in investigations of law enforcement agencies before, this is the first instance of the FBI using the method in its sweeping investigation of the Sheriff’s Department. The FBI has been investigating the department’s jails system since 2011.

The Times article did not reveal which captain allegedly ordered Tamayo to sell the tickets. However, the station was under the command of Capt. Joseph Stephen from January 2010 until January of this year, when Stephen was removed amid a sexual misconduct probe.

Jacob Glucksman, an attorney for Tamayo, told The Malibu Times on Tuesday that the 2011 incident had occurred while Stephen was serving as captain at the Malibu/ Lost Hills station, but he would not comment on whether Stephen was the captain who told subordinates to sell the tickets.

Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for Sheriff Lee Baca, also declined to comment on whether the Malibu/Lost Hills Station, specifically, was under investigation, or whether Stephen was the captain whom Tamayo was referring to.

“These are personnel matters. It’s against the law for me to comment on specifics,” he told The Malibu Times.

Tamayo also said the unnamed captain would tell him to routinely pick up donations for the agency — sometimes in what appeared to be envelopes full of cash — from wealthy residents in the area.

The captain compared big donors to golf balls, Tamayo said, saying, “Tee ‘em up… See how far they go.”

The unidentified captain declined comment according to The Times, referring questions to his attorney, who did not return calls.

While law enforcement agencies make it a common practice to raise donations for their departments or charities, Tamayo said donors were given special treatment.

Tamayo has served in the sheriff ’s department since 2000. He was placed on leave in February amid allegations that he fixed a traffic ticket for a bribe.

Glucksman said the allegation was made by someone from outside the department who was “well-connected to” the unnamed captain.

“There’s an allegation about one ticket. That he took money for the ticket, that’s what the department is investigating,” said Glucksman, who called the allegations “completely unfounded.”

“This whole nightmare has really tarnished his view of the department and the fact that they’re pointing their finger at him for absolutely nothing … it’s caused stress, medical issues, anxiety.” Glucksman said he and Tamayo approached the FBI after Tamayo was placed on leave.

“I arranged the meeting with the FBI,” Glucksman told The Malibu Times.

Gluckman said Tamayo denies the ticket-fixing charge, but declined to say if he ever did other official favors for residents in his patrol area, according to the LA Times.

In Tamayo’s account, he told federal agents that the captain instructed about a dozen sheriff ’s employees to sell 10 fundraiser tickets each, and that the order came down through the chain of command from Baca. Whitmore vehemently denied the charge.

“No, that’s absurd, ” Whitmore told The Malibu Times. “The Sheriff has never ordered anybody to do political activities on his behalf for fundraising.”

Baca endorsed Trutanich last year and appeared in an Internet campaign video for him in uniform, a violation of state law.