Prosecutor who alleged retaliation from DA Gascón poised to get $800,000 settlement
A former high-ranking prosecutor who alleges Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón retaliated against him for refusing to drop charges against three anti-police protesters accused of attempting to wreck a train in Compton is poised to receive an $800,000 settlement.
The Los Angeles County Claims Board agreed this week to recommend that the county Board of Supervisors issue the payout to Richard Doyle, a former head deputy district attorney in the Compton office who has since retired.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the recommendation next month.
Doyle could not be reached for comment Friday and his attorney, Alan Jackson, declined to discuss the terms of the settlement. The District Attorney’s Office did not comment.
Taxpayer forced to ‘foot the bill’
Eric Siddall, vice president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, which represents about 900 Los Angeles County prosecutors, said the pending settlement could have been avoided.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the taxpayer has foot the bill for George Gascón’s retaliatory behavior,” he said. “San Francisco taxpayers paid $400,000 due to retaliation against a whistleblower concerned about Gascón violating federal law by carrying a gun on a plane. Now Los Angeles will pay $800,000 because of this case. How many more times will the taxpayers have to pay for Gascón’s calculated indiscretions?”
Doyle had a clean 34-year work history until December 2020, when Gascón — who had been in office for less than a week — deemed him insubordinate.
Refused to drop ‘viable prosecution’
The dispute arose after Doyle questioned Gascon’s order to drop charges against three anti-police protesters, all of whom had been charged with trying to derail a train by placing police barriers and other items on tracks near the Compton sheriff’s station on Nov. 15, Fox 11 Los Angeles reported.
The suspects had been charged with felony attempted train wrecking, a charge that could carry life without parole, as well as a lesser felony count of unlawful obstruction of a railroad track, which carries a two- to four-year sentence in county jail, according to the station.
On Dec. 8, just hours after Gascón was sworn in, Doyle said he got a phone call from Mario Trujillo, a close ally of Gascon who serves on his executive staff, instructing him to dismiss the charges, the station reported.
“I told him I’m not comfortable dismissing what I know to be a good case, a viable prosecution, without knowing the reason why, and he said, ‘Well, can you just dismiss it today and we’ll find out the reasons later?” Doyle told Fox 11. “And I said no.”
Trujillo dismissed the charges against the three defendants on behalf of Gascón.
Doyle told the television station that three weeks later he was transferred from the Compton office, where he supervised 66 people, to the smaller environmental crimes division, further from his home, where he managed a staff of nine.
Others allege retaliation
In addition to Doyle, two other deputy district attorneys allege similar retaliation by Gascon and are suing for lost wages and other unspecified damages.
Shawn Randolph, former head deputy for the Juvenile Division, said in a lawsuit filed in July that Gascón transferred her to a “dead end” post in the Parole Division in downtown Los Angeles after she complained he had abolished the ability of prosecutors to file certain crimes against juveniles governed under California’s “three-strikes” law.
Lesley Klein Sonnenberg, who served as second-in-command of the Family Violence Division for five years, alleges she was denied a promotion in January to acting head deputy after she complained about Gascón’s policies.
Sonneberg was, against her wishes, transferred to the Consumer Protections Division in downtown Los Angeles in retaliation for her refusal to carry out Gascón’s directives, her suit states.
“The Consumer Protection Division is also a dead-end position for plaintiff since she had no experience in civil law or in the civil courts,” her lawsuit states. “Plaintiff was transferred into a position in which she was literally a duck out of water. After decades of learning criminal law and procedure, and close to retirement, plaintiff is now in a position that she does not fully understand and at which she will certainly not excel.”