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California

Investigators accuse Orange County D.A. of cover-ups, interfering with investigations

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas
Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas has been accused by investigators twice in two weeks of using his position to help political allies and retaliating against employees who express opposition.
(Los Angeles Times)

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas and other officials interfered in multiple investigations and covered up criminal conduct by police, according to claims filed Friday by two investigators with the district attorney’s office.

In their filings, Tom Conklin and Abraham Santos cited three high-profile cases that they said officials had suppressed.

One involved a former Cypress Police Department investigator accused of committing perjury during a capital murder trial. Another case revolved around the alleged cover-up by Fullerton police of a former city manager’s drunk driving. Conklin and Santos said they were removed from the investigation into a third case, involving a man who they believed was planning a “Sandy Hook”-level mass shooting.

The whistle-blower claims are precursors to a lawsuit. Conklin, who has worked at the district attorney’s office since 2008, and Santos, who has been there since 2015, assert that they have been targeted for termination because they spoke out about Rackauckas and his office. Santos said he also became the subject of false rumors that he had sexually harassed another employee.

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“The culture in the OCDA office is one of punishing disloyalty,” Conklin’s claim stated. “DA Rackauckas transparently rewards his friends and punishes his enemies.”

The district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment Saturday. Spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden declined to comment Friday to the Orange County Register and the Voice of OC, saying the claims were personnel matters.

The claims by Conklin and Santos represent the second time in two weeks that Rackauckas has been accused by one of his investigators of using his position to help political allies and retaliating against employees who express opposition.

Craig Hunter, former chief investigator for the office, filed a claim alleging that Rackauckas had interfered in political corruption investigations involving his supporters. Hunter also is one of the officials Conklin and Santos accused of misconduct.

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The investigators named 14 members of the district attorney’s office in their claims, including Rackauckas and several of his assistants, as well as other investigators.

andrea.castillo@latimes.com

@andreamcastillo


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