The ex-parole chief’s lawsuit claims LA County fired him because he was a whistleblower

(Courtesy of the County of San Diego/Courtesy of the County of San Diego)

The ex-parole chief’s lawsuit claims LA County fired him because he was a whistleblower

LA Politics, Homepage News

Rebecca Ellis

March 7, 2024

Former Los Angeles County Probation Department Chief Adolfo Gonzales, who was fired last March due to widespread dysfunction at the agency’s juvenile facilities,

claims in a lawsuit

that he was responsible for reporting serious staffing shortages to state regulators.

Gonzales’ term of two years and one month was marked by near-constant controversy. But in a lawsuit filed last month, he argued that county supervisors only decided to fire him after he came clean to Board of State and Community Corrections inspectors about the agency’s staffing crisis.

The board, also known as the BSCC, has the authority to close juvenile detention centers if inspections show conditions do not meet state standards.

Gonzales candidly reported to BSCC inspectors the understaffing in the probation department, which led to a lack of compliance with various regulations and mandates of the state of California, the lawsuit said. As a result of Gonzales’ reports to BSCC, he was fired by the county.

The state administration declined to comment. Mira Hashmall, outside counsel for LA County, called the lawsuit baseless.

The probation department suffered from a lack of leadership under Adolfo Gonzales, which is why his employment was terminated, she wrote in a statement to The Times. He’s not a whistleblower.

Under Gonzales’ leadership, the perennially struggling agency went from one problem to another. There were more lockdowns, more fighting and

fewer employees

to deal with them. Officers said they were too afraid of the violence in juvenile detention centers to come to work. Young people were also traumatized and had to urinate in their locked rooms because there was no one around to let them out.

Gonzales’ attorney, Michael Conger, said

that of his client

The report on staffing issues had a major impact on a January 13, 2023 report from state inspectors, which found, among other things, that the

province two

The youth halls were dangerously understaffed. Months later, the board would close the two halls after the province repeatedly failed to improve conditions.

Conger said it was Gonzale’s “frank” portrayal of personnel issues that led to his firing two months later.

The state inspection, however, wasn’t the only embarrassment Gonzales’ office faced in the months leading up to his resignation. On February.

11, 2023

The Times reported that Gonzales overruled an internal disciplinary board recommendation to fire an officer who forcibly restrained a 17-year-old. Following The Times’ report, a majority of the Board of Supervisors called for Gonzales’ resignation.

Gonzales’ attorney said this was not the board’s anger.

We don’t believe this has anything to do with it, he said. That was a complete non-problem. They weren’t angry about that.

Records show the county spent more than $900,000 on Gonzales during his time with the department.

By the time he left, Gonzales had received $927,000 in compensation, according to county payroll records. It’s unclear if that figure includes other benefits Gonzales was entitled to under his employment agreement with the county, which promised relocation expenses and severance pay.

Under his employment contract, reviewed by The Times, Gonzales was entitled to up to $25,000 to relocate from San Diego, where he worked for five years as head of the county’s probation department.

Records show he also received $172,521, equivalent to six months’ salary, in severance after his dismissal.

The board replaced Gonzales with Guillermo Viera Rosa and promised a new chapter for the long-troubled agency. But so far his tenure has been plagued by the same personnel crisis that dogged his predecessor.

A report released Thursday by the province’s Office of Inspector General found that “dangerously low staffing levels” contributed to the chaotic Nov. 4 escape of a youth from the Los Padrinos juvenile detention center. After several teenagers attacked a staff member, one briefly escaped to a neighboring golf course.

At the time of the incident, only one staff member, who had never previously been placed in juvenile detention, had been in the unit with 14 youths, the report’s authors noted. The report notes that the staffing level violates state law, which requires the agency to maintain a ratio of one staff member to 10 youth.

That day, the probation department scheduled 100 staff members to work at the facility, the minimum needed to operate.

Sixty of them did not show up.


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