5 Years Later, Some Fear O.C. Jail Snitch Scandal Will Go Unpunished

Todd Spitzer appears at the Orange County District Attorney's Officer in an undated photo. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Todd Spitzer appears at the Orange County District Attorney's Officer in an undated photo. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Nearly five years have passed since a lawyer representing the man who slaughtered eight people inside a Seal Beach salon first raised questions about the way investigators used informants inside Orange County’s jails.

The accusation — that sheriff’s deputies planted a prolific snitch in the cell of confessed killer Scott Dekraai in the hopes of eliciting information without his lawyer present, and then covered up their unconstitutional actions — seemed outlandish at the time. But jailhouse records soon proved otherwise, and the Orange County district attorney’s office and Sheriff’s Department found themselves embroiled in a national scandal.

The state attorney general’s office opened an investigation into both agencies in 2015; the U.S. Department of Justice followed suit the next year. Orange County prosecutors were kicked off Dekraai’s case, and a judge cited the informant scheme in sparing him a place on California’s death row. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit accusing authorities of having deployed “professional” informants for decades.

But to date, no one has been disciplined, fired or prosecuted for misconduct. And on Friday, a deputy attorney general said that the state investigation into the case — the only avenue for criminal charges — has been closed.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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