Four Orange County sheriff’s deputies have been fired after a two-year audit by the Sheriff’s Department found systemic abuses in the handling of evidence, the Southern California News Group has learned.
Fifteen deputies were criminally investigated in connection with the probe, but the District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges. Besides the four terminations, seven deputies were disciplined and four cases are pending. Sheriff’s officials offered no further information on the cases, citing a state police confidentiality law.
The explosive audit found that nearly one-third of the evidence collected from February 2016 to February 2018 was booked beyond the agency’s one-day policy. Some bookings were tardy by more than a month, creating questions about chain of custody. One official from the Public Defender’s Office said thousands of criminal cases could be affected.
The audit, obtained by the Southern California News Group, found that 30 percent of the evidence was booked late.