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Ex-probation chief’s suit alleges L.A. County fired him for being a whistleblower

Former Los Angeles County Probation Director Adolfo Gonzalez, who was fired last March after widespread malfunctions at the department's juvenile facilities, says in a lawsuit that he was fired for reporting severe staffing shortages to state regulators. It is claimed that.

Mr. Gonzalez's two-year, one-month tenure was marked by near-constant controversy. But in a lawsuit filed last month, he said county supervisors decided to fire him only after he spoke candidly to state and community corrections board inspectors about the state staffing crisis. he claimed.

The commission, known as the BSCC, has the power to close juvenile detention facilities if inspections show conditions do not meet state standards.

“Defendant Gonzalez frankly reported to the BSCC inspector that the Probation Department's understaffing was causing a lack of compliance with various California regulations and mandates,” the complaint states. “As a result of Mr. Gonzalez's report to the BSCC, he was terminated by the county.”

The state commission declined to comment. Mira Hashmall, an outside attorney for Los Angeles County, said the lawsuit is without merit.

“The Probation Department suffered from a lack of leadership under Adolfo Gonzalez, which is why his employment was terminated,” she wrote in a statement to the Times. “He's not a whistleblower.”

Under Gonzalez's leadership, the beleaguered agency has solved one problem after another. More lockdowns, more conflicts, and fewer staff to deal with them.Deputies said they were too scared violence He goes to work inside a juvenile detention center. The young people were also traumatized and had no choice but to urinate behind closed doors because there was no one around to let them out.

Gonzalez's attorney, Michael Conger, said Gonzalez's client's explanation of staffing issues had a major impact on the Jan. 13, 2023, incident. report State inspectors found the county's two juvenile detention facilities to be dangerously understaffed and found a variety of deficiencies. Several months later, the board was forced to close both halls after the county repeatedly failed to improve the situation.

Conger said Gonzalez's “candid” depiction of staffing issues led to his firing two months later.

But the state inspection wasn't the only embarrassment for Gonzalez's agency in the months leading up to his firing. On February 11, 2023, the Times reported that Gonzalez ignored an internal disciplinary committee's recommendation to fire a police officer who violently restrained a 17-year-old boy. After the Times report, a majority of the Board of Supervisors called for Gonzalez's resignation.

Gonzalez's attorney said this did not incur the board's ire.

“We don't believe it had anything to do with it,” he said. “It wasn't an issue at all. They weren't mad about it.”

Records show the county spent more than $900,000 on Gonzalez while working for the department.

Gonzalez received $927,000 in compensation by the time he retired, according to county payroll. data. It's unclear whether that figure includes other benefits Gonzalez is entitled to under his employment agreement with the county, which promises relocation costs and severance.

According to his employment contract reviewed by the Times, Mr. Gonzalez is entitled to up to $25,000 to pay for his relocation from San Diego, where he worked for five years as head of the county's probation department.

He also received $172,521 in severance pay, the equivalent of six months' salary, after he was fired, records show.

The board appointed Guillermo Vieira Rosa to replace Gonzalez, promising a new chapter for the long-struggling agency. But so far, his term has been plagued by the same staffing crisis that plagued his predecessor.

a report A report released Thursday by the county inspector general's office found that “dangerously low staffing levels” contributed to the disorderly escape of youths from Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall on Nov. 4. did. Several teens attacked the staff, and one briefly fled to a nearby golf course.

The report's authors say that at the time of the incident, there was only one staff member who had never been assigned to a juvenile detention center, and there were 14 juveniles in the facility. The report said this staffing level violates state law, which requires agencies to maintain a ratio of one employee to 10 youth.

On that day, the Probation Department planned to have 100 staff members working at the facility, the minimum required to operate the facility.

60 of them did not show up.

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