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The chief watchdog for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says Sheriff Alex Villanueva appears to have ignored key evidence in rehiring a deputy who was fired for domestic violence and dishonesty, and is calling into question numerous aspects of his handling of the case.

The county Office of Inspector General also says Villanueva made public statements defending his decision to reinstate the deputy that are not supported by available evidence, according to a detailed analysis of the case issued Tuesday.

The rehiring of Deputy Caren Carl Mandoyan, reported by The Times in January, has been a recurring source of controversy during Villanueva’s first months in office, sparking legal action against him by the county and sharp criticism from a civilian oversight group.

The backlash led to a county directive that Villanueva pause his “truth and reconciliation” panel, a body that he said would address prior injustices by the department against staff and the public. Mandoyan’s rehiring was the first case to come before that committee, which has not heard other cases since.

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