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Divided L.A. County sheriff's deputies union is without a leader

The union that represents Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies has gone from two presidents to none.

A judge has stepped into the battle for control of the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, ruling that it will have no leader until a court hearing April 17.

Instead, decisions will be made by a three-person committee, including one member from each of the union's competing factions and a longtime staffer considered relatively neutral.

Last month, newly elected president Armando Macias was ousted and a different president installed. Macias clung to his office, bringing at least two union board members with him and starting a competing website. The other side sued to prevent Macias from making decisions or accessing union money.

With the union yet to make an endorsement in the upcoming sheriff's election, the power struggle comes at a pivotal time.

In a ruling issued Wednesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant also ordered Macias to return $100,000 he withdrew from the union's political fund to pay legal fees. Steve Ipsen, an attorney for the Macias side, said the money should have come from a different fund and his clients are willing to return it.

"There was wisdom in his order, taking one person from each side — blood enemies, you might say," Ipsen said of the temporary governance structure. "The three should be able to make decisions on day-to-day operations."

Don Jeffrey Steck, who was elected president by the competing faction, said his supporters also are pleased with the arrangement.

"Our members are relieved that the court removed any authority Macias has to do any actions within the organization," Steck said.

cindy.chang@latimes.com

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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