Deputy says he wore wire for FBI in probe of L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept.

Robert Faturechi, Jack Leonard and Andrew Blankstein (Los Angeles Times) | May 31, 2013

A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy wore a wire for the FBI last month, secretly recording a department supervisor as part of an investigation into allegations of improper fundraising, the deputy and his attorneys said.

Deputy Edwin Tamayo told The Times that FBI agents asked him to wear the wire after he told them that a captain gathered him and other subordinates at a patrol station barbecue pit and ordered them to sell tickets to a 2011 fundraiser for Carmen Trutanich’s unsuccessful bid for district attorney. He declined to say which department supervisor he recorded.

While federal authorities have used wires in investigations of law enforcement agencies before, this is the first indication that the bureau has used the tactic as part of its expansive probe of the Sheriff’s Department.

Tamayo, a 12-year department veteran who is now on leave, came forward after facing criminal allegations of his own. He said he was accused of fixing a traffic ticket for a bribe. He denies the allegation but declined to say if he ever did other official favors for residents in his affluent patrol area.

Tamayo said he told federal agents that the captain instructed about a dozen sheriff’s employees to sell 10 fundraiser tickets each, saying the order came down through the chain of command from Sheriff Lee Baca — an allegation his spokesman denied. It is unclear what specific law such conduct might violate.

Tamayo provided The Times with a text message exchange he said he had with an FBI agent during the secret recording. The messages show Tamayo being coached on how to use his recording equipment and what to say.

In one text, Tamayo is instructed to mention Trutanich and to bring up “the difference between the truth and staying loyal.” Do so “at your own pace,” he was advised.

“You’re doing fine…. End well so you can stay in touch,” the messages continue. “OK when you have a chance turn everything off, we’ll meet you at ihop.”

Read more at: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-fbi-deputy-wire-20130601,0,7795357.story

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

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