The news is out: [Los Angeles County has paid out roughly $55 million in settlements since 1990 in cases in which sheriff’s deputies were alleged to belong to a secret society, records obtained by The Times show.
The figure comes from a list that includes payouts in dozens of lawsuits and claims involving deputies associated with tattooed groups accused of glorifying an aggressive style of policing. The report, prepared by L.A. County attorneys, lists nearly 60 cases, some of them pending, and names eight specific cliques.
The county has paid out nearly $21 million in cases that began in the last 10 years alone.
The high cost underscores how these deputy groups — with monikers such as the Vikings, Regulators, 3000 Boys and the Banditos — have operated out of several Sheriff’s Department stations for decades, exhibiting what critics have long alleged are the violent, intimidating tactics similar in some ways to criminal street gangs.
Over the years, a succession of elected sheriffs have failed to bring the subgroups under control despite multiple internal investigations and more recently, a federal probe by the FBI federal probe by the FBI. Many civil liberties advocates and county watchdogs have accused the Sheriff’s Department of turning a blind eye.
The Board of Supervisors requested the list of payouts last year after The Times reported that members of the Banditos, which operate out of the East L.A. station, were accused of assaulting other deputies during an off-duty party in 2018. One deputy was knocked unconscious.]
When your rights are violated, you are just sitting on a pile of money.