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Former LA Sheriff’s Deputy Jan Adams Awarded $1.275 Million for Blowing Whistle on Corrupt Colleagues

— May 10, 2017

Former Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Jan Adams was awarded a $1.275 million in a lawsuit which claims the department had retaliated against her following testimony against colleagues.

The LA Times reports the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the settlement on Tuesday “without comment.”

Adams had blown the whistle on colleagues she claimed were obstructing an FBI investigation into the Sheriff’s office.

The former deputy in “the records bureau at the Inmate Reception Center” claimed in court that a lieutenant and three other deputies had asked her to remove an inmate, Anthony Brown, from the facility’s booking system. Panic had broken out among law enforcement officers after they learned that Brown was a federal informant helping the FBI “probe jailhouse abuses.”

Former Los Angeles Sheriff, Lee Baca, announcing his retirement in 2014; image by Scott M. Liebenson (own work), via Wikimedia Commons, CC0.
Former Los Angeles Sheriff, Lee Baca, announcing his retirement in 2014; image by Scott M. Liebenson (own work), via Wikimedia Commons, CC0.

Deciding not to cooperate, Adams was told that the Undersheriff ordered Brown be removed from the system, and that she’d later been threatened and denied promotions as a consequence of refusing to be complicit.

Adam’s testimony helped convict ten figures from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, including former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and a several low-level deputies. Tanaka was sentenced to five years in prison for “conspiracy and obstruction.”

The Sheriff at the time of the debacle, Lee Baca, is still awaiting sentencing.

“Ms. Adams was the one deputy sheriff in the LASD who stood up to, and refused to cooperate in, a scheme orchestrated by, among others, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, to obstruct a federal investigation into illegal practices at the LASD,” read the civil complaint filed by Adams in 2016.

The complaint went on to say, “She would be repaid for her acts of courage by shunning, threats and ultimately the termination of her career.”

Adams left the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 2014, afraid to return to her posting after taking maternity leave.

“[She] was one of the bravest deputies I have known,” said Greg Smith, Adams’ attorney. “She told the truth knowing Baca and Tanaka would wield the power of the Sheriff’s Department against her. She picked the truth over her career.”

The efforts of Sheriff Baca to prevent Brown from passing on information to the FBI included assigning over a dozen deputies to watch his cell at all times. They also assigned him a fake name and moved him to another facility.

The efforts to conceal Brown and hide his status and location from the FBI were termed “Operation Pandora’s Box” internally. Once over, The LA Times said a thank-you email was sent out, praising deputies for assisting without “asking too many questions.”

Adams’ payout was approved without comment from the County Board of Supervisors.

Los Angeles County has paid out almost $100 million in settlements tied back to the Sheriff’s Department since 2010, with half that amount having been awarded in 2016.


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