San Bernardino County prosecutor put on leave after offensive social media posts

Michael Selyem, the lead gang prosecutor in the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office, is under internal investigation for a series of offensive posts on social media accounts that have now been deleted. (Jennifer Cappuccio Maher / San Bernardino Sun)

A prosecutor in the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office has been placed on administrative leave after writing offensive social media comments.

The San Bernardino Sun first reported that the office’s lead gang prosecutor, Michael Selyem, was under investigation for rants targeting U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), former First Lady Michelle Obama, Mexican immigrants and the victim of a police shooting.

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In a news conference Monday, San Bernardino County Dist. Atty. Michael Ramos said he was offended by the comments.

And in a written statement, Ramos said: “The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office does not condone hate, discrimination or incitement of violence. Our community and the entire criminal justice system depends on having fair, ethical, and unbiased prosecutors.”

The Sun reports that Selyem, who joined the office 12 years ago, wrote of Waters: “Being a loud-mouthed c#nt in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot this bitch by now …”

The newspaper also reports that Selyem got into an online argument over the police shooting of a civilian, writing, “That s—bag got exactly what he deserved. … You reap what you sow. And by the way go f— yourself you liberal s—bag.”

“As the district attorney, I was really concerned with comments regarding officer-involved shootings, because we handle those cases, as you know, on a daily basis,” Ramos said at the news conference. “To make any comments … impacts the ability for us to ensure the integrity of this office.”

The district attorney’s office received information on June 28 regarding negative comments posted online by Selyem, according to Ramos. The district attorney said there were “more than several” complaints. Staff and managers spoke and then contacted human resources and “took immediate steps to start a personnel investigation.”

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“This could end up being some form of disciplinary action, up to termination,” Ramos said. “We haven’t decided that yet. We’re following the rules and regulations of California.”

An assistant district attorney has been assigned to look at cases Selyem handled in the gang unit. However, Ramos said there is no indication that Selyem had any type of bias regarding his cases, but “that’s not to say we won’t review them, especially if there’s a request to do so.”

While there is not a specific social media policy in place, Ramos said, there are policies regarding professional conduct as a prosecutor.

“You’re a prosecutor 24/7; it’s not an 8 to 5 job,” Ramos said. “The public looks at you as leaders in the community.”

1:45 p.m.: This article was updated with details on an assistant district attorney being assigned to look at cases Selyem handled in the gang unit.

This article was originally published at 1:10 p.m.

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