Breaking News

D.A. sends audio leak eavesdropping probe back to LAPD

The Los Angeles Police Department’s investigation into last year’s incendiary audio leak focuses on two former Los Angeles County Federation of Labor employees who now face potential felony eavesdropping charges, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said.

No charges have yet been filed and the LAPD “is actively following up on requests for additional information made by the District Attorney’s office,” Moore said in a statement Wednesday night.

Prosecutors sent the case back to Los Angeles police for “further investigation” last week, according to Tiffiny Blacknell, director of communications for Dist. Atty. George Gascón’s office. It is not uncommon for prosecutors to ask a law enforcement agency to gather additional evidence or interview additional witnesses during the charge evaluation process.

But the district attorney’s office asked for further work because of shortcomings in the police’s initial investigation, according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.

The LAPD statement did not identify the employees being investigated, but the sources confirmed that they are Santos Leon and Karla Vasquez, a married couple who worked for the federation when the conversation was recorded in late 2021. Police searched Leon and Vasquez’s Eagle Rock home in July and Leon’s computers were taken by police around the same time.

Leon’s lawyer Robert Schwartz declined to comment Thursday. Vasquez’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Police did not fully examine the hard drives and digital hardware computer hard drives taken from those under suspicion, the sources said.

One of the sources described the LAPD investigation as heavily relying on a private investigation previously conducted for the labor federation.

The leaked conversation, which included racist and derogatory comments, was recorded during an October 2021 meeting involving then-Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, then-City Council President Nury Martinez and two other City Council members — Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León — at the federation’s Westlake headquarters. Herrera and Martinez stepped down within days of The Times reporting on the recording in October 2022.

During an internal investigation earlier this year, a forensic investigator brought in by the federation interviewed staff and examined each staffer’s laptop computer, a person familiar with the inquiry who was not authorized to speak publicly, told The Times in July. During that inquiry, the forensic investigator found sound-editing software on Leon’s computer and turned its findings over to the LAPD, the source said.

“I have no further information beyond what is in the news release. Investigative details are not available,” LAPD Capt. Kelly Muniz said Thursday when asked about the allegations.

California is a “two-party consent” state, meaning it is a crime for someone to record a conversation without the consent of other participants, unless they have been granted a court order to do so. The police department’s investigation remains ongoing and as of now, no other individuals have been identified as allegedly being involved, according to Moore’s statement.

The update in the investigation comes days after both Cedillo and De León filed lawsuits against Vasquez and Leon, saying the recording did permanent harm to their reputations and careers. Both lawsuits allege invasion of privacy and negligence and seek damages.

Cedillo’s lawsuit also targets the federation of labor, while De León names only the couple as defendants.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button