Top Prosecutor in L.A. County District Attorney’s Office Faces Criminal Charges for Improper Use of Confidential Records

Top Prosecutor in L.A. County District Attorney’s Office Faces Criminal Charges for Improper Use of Confidential Records

California’s Attorney General, Rob Bonta, has filed 11 felony charges against Diana Teran, a top prosecutor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Teran, who supervises high-profile and sensitive cases involving police misconduct, fraud, and public corruption, is accused of improperly downloading confidential records of police officers while working for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department in 2018. Bonta alleges that Teran then used the data inappropriately after joining George Gascón’s office three years later.

The criminal complaint, filed in L.A. Superior Court, reveals that the confidential records pertain to 11 sheriff’s deputies, although their names were not disclosed. The charges against Teran, a key figure in Gascón’s agenda of law enforcement accountability and criminal justice reform, have sent shockwaves through the state’s legal community. The case is expected to have a significant impact on ongoing and future criminal cases handled by Gascón’s office, while also fueling controversy in his bid for reelection this year.

Bonta, a fellow Democrat and police reform advocate, emphasized that no one is above the law and public officials are expected to serve with integrity and honesty. Teran’s attorney, James Spertus, called the case “dead on arrival” and expressed surprise at the charges, stating that his client had been cooperating with the investigation. Spertus argued that Teran was charged for actions within the scope of her employment and had a duty to download the documents in question.

Teran, a lawyer with over 35 years of experience, previously worked as a deputy district attorney in L.A. County and held positions involving law enforcement monitoring and oversight. She joined Gascón’s administration in early 2021 as a special advisor and later became the head of the Justice Systems Integrity Division, responsible for prosecuting police and attorney misconduct. Gascón recently promoted Teran to assistant district attorney, granting her supervisory authority over units handling organized crime, white-collar crime, corruption, and crimes committed by law enforcement and attorneys.

The specific details of the allegations against Teran are not provided in the criminal complaint. However, a source familiar with the case claims that the charges relate to documents she downloaded while working at the Sheriff’s Department, which were subsequently provided to the Discovery Unit at the D.A.’s office. Spertus believes that the investigation was triggered by a complaint from former Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who clashed with those overseeing his department, including Teran.

Spertus argues that the charges against Teran are unfounded, as the documents and data in question were either obtained from public court files or involved findings of dishonesty against sheriff’s deputies, which are public records under California’s police transparency law. Villanueva sees the charges as a vindication of his administration and suggests that further indictments related to public corruption cases involving Los Angeles County elected leaders and their appointees may follow.

Gascón did not directly address the charges against Teran but defended his office’s handling of confidential law enforcement records, stating that they comply with constitutional obligations and privacy laws. Despite the ongoing case, Gascón remains committed to transparency and ensuring police accountability within Los Angeles County.

Nathan Hochman, Gascón’s opponent in the district attorney’s race, seized the opportunity to criticize Gascón’s judgment and leadership, citing the promotion of Teran despite objections from experienced prosecutors. Richard Pippin, president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, called for a comprehensive investigation into the allegations, expressing concern over Teran’s previous conduct during her tenure with the sheriff’s department.

Author: CrimeDoor

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