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Ex-deputy says he was fired after refusing to affiliate with alleged deputy gang

Keri Blakinger, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — A former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy says he was fired after refusing to take part in law enforcement gang activity, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Federico Carlo, the ex-lawman behind the suit, alleges he was wrongly accused of giving a Nazi salute and sharing a sexually explicit photo, then "abruptly terminated" by a "tattooed Regulator deputy gang member" who is now the acting commander overseeing training and personnel.

The acting commander, Capt. John Pat Macdonald, did not respond to a request for comment, and the department did not answer questions about whether he has or had a Regulator tattoo.

"The department has not officially received this claim but strives to provide a fair and equitable working environment for all employees," officials wrote in an emailed statement to The Times. "Any act of retaliation, harassment, and discrimination will not be tolerated and is a violation of the department's policy and values."

Neither Carlo nor his attorney offered comment for this story. Carlo sued the county and is asking for unspecified damages.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has long been plagued by allegations that some of its highest-ranking officials sport tattoos representing exclusionary deputy subgroups. Last month, former Undersheriff Tim Murakami admitted under oath that he once had a tattoo associated with an East Los Angeles Station group known as the Cavemen.

 

Last year, the news site Capital & Main reported that current Undersheriff April Tardy admitted to having a station tattoo that some in the department said signified the V Boys deputy gang. And in 2022, Larry Del Mese, chief of staff to former Sheriff Alex Villanueva, publicly admitted membership in the Grim Reapers.

Yet last week sheriff's officials told The Times the issue is "not reflective of the entire department" and pointed out that there are "multiple investigations related to deputy gangs" currently underway, and that a new anti-gang policy is being negotiated with the deputy labor unions.

For decades, the Sheriff's Department has been bedeviled by allegations about gangs of deputies running roughshod over certain stations and floors of the jail. The groups are known by monikers such as the Executioners, the Vikings and the Regulators, and their members often bear the same sequentially numbered tattoos.

The group at the center of Carlo's lawsuit, the Regulators, is typically affiliated with the Century Sheriff's Station in Lynwood. It is one of the older deputy subgroups in the department, and it is commonly represented by the symbol of a skeleton in a cowboy hat. In recent years there have been some indications — including in a Rand Corp. study commissioned by county lawyers — that the group is no longer actively adding new members. Late last year, though, oversight officials spotted a Regulators sticker outside the Century Regional Detention Facility next door to the station.

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