Kamala Harris' office probes 2nd employee charged with posing as law enforcement

Kamala Harris' office probes 2nd employee charged with posing as law enforcement
Kamala Harris, California’s attorney general. Her department is investigating an employee who was convicted of unlawfully using one of the department's badges to pose as a deputy attorney general. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

About a year before an aide to the state’s top prosecutor was put on leave after being accused of impersonating a police officer, another employee in Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris’ office was arrested for posing as a member of law enforcement.

Adrienne Mayr, 50, a secretary with the Department of Justice, was arrested in April 2014 after repeatedly flashing the badge of a dead deputy attorney general at drivers in Los Angeles County and in one instance, trapping a mother and child in their car at an intersection.

Mayr was arrested for child endangerment, false imprisonment, posing as a public officer, exhibiting a badge to defraud and receiving stolen property, said Doris Peniche, a spokeswoman for the California Highway Patrol. Los Angeles County prosecutors charged her with one count of unlawful use of a badge and one count of impersonating a public officer. She pleaded no contest to using the badge and the second charge was dismissed, court records show.

On Friday, Harris spokesman David Beltran acknowledged the department was aware of the case.

“We have an ongoing personnel investigation into the matter. We can’t comment on disciplinary action that may be taken, but this case is serious and troubling,” Beltran said. “After the personnel investigation is completed, appropriate action will be taken.”

Following inquiries from The Times, Mayr was put on administrative leave.

Last month, Harris aide Brandon Kiel was put on paid leave after he was arrested on suspicion of impersonating police. Unlike Mayr’s case, prosecutors allege Kiel was part of a larger effort that included two other people who allegedly represented themselves as members of the Masonic Fraternal Police Department — a force that doesn’t exist.

Kiel faces six counts of impersonating a peace officer, among other charges, and is due in court next month. Beltran said Kiel was placed on paid leave pending both internal and criminal investigations and that Harris has received regular briefings on the case.

“The attorney general has been concerned about these serious allegations from the point she was first briefed on this investigation,” Beltran said in early May. “Our office has been cooperating with investigators from the beginning and will continue to do so.”

Mayr has one court appearance left, documents show, to pay fees and fines.

The CHP began investigating her after receiving a complaint from a driver in Whittier, Peniche said.

It started in early March 2014, authorities said. Mayr allegedly drove alongside the woman in Montebello, signaled at her and waved the badge at her. The woman thought nothing of it and continued driving to work, Peniche said.

A week later, it allegedly happened again. The woman was on her cellphone while driving when, despite having her passenger-side window up, she could hear yelling coming from a car to her right, Peniche said.

She saw Mayr, who held up the badge, pointed at it and yelled for the woman to “get off the phone” four times, Peniche said. The woman recognized Mayr as the person from the previous incident because the last three characters on her car’s license plate were identical.

A month later, on April 8, Mayr and the woman crossed paths again — this time in Whittier, Peniche said. The CHP said the woman stopped at a red light for a left turn with her 11-year-old daughter in the car. When the light turned green, the car ahead of her rolled forward far enough that both cars were in the intersection. Then the car in front of the woman’s, which turned out to be driven by Mayr, suddenly stopped, Peniche said.

Both cars ended up stopped in the intersection, she said.

The woman assumed the vehicle was having mechanical issues “but noticed the driver was flailing her arms inside the vehicle,” Peniche said. That’s when the woman noticed the car’s now-familiar license plate.

The light turned red, but Mayr wouldn’t budge her car, the CHP said. The woman yelled and flashed an obscene gesture at Mayr until she moved out of the intersection. Before Mayr drove off, the woman took a photo of her license plate to show police. Mayr was arrested two weeks later.

In an interview, Mayr told investigators that she was upset with the woman, saying she had cut her off in traffic, Peniche said. Mayr claimed she didn’t use the badge “very often,” and used it mostly to cut in line in court to retrieve documents.

When asked why she had the badge, Mayr told investigators it was a keepsake from her late colleague. The man’s wife and son both said they didn’t know Mayr and did not give her permission to have the badge.

Mayr did not respond to requests for comment.

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