The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has come under fire for what some claim is special treatment in a case involving celebrity singer, songwriter and producer John Legend.
Legend, one of Hollywood’s biggest entertainers, has been a longtime supporter of L.A. County DA George Gascón, even backing him in the DA’s 2020 election bid.
Critics now say that close relationship has influenced a case on the DA’s radar.
On Monday, Legend was working inside a recording studio when a suspect attempted to steal his Porsche. The suspect didn’t get far. Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department soon arrested the person on suspicion of grand theft auto.
What has some critics of the DA’s office fuming is an internal email the DA’s Acting Head Deputy John Harlan sent to prosecutors, putting them on notice that he wanted to stay informed about the case.
In the email, obtained by KTLA, Harlan asked prosecutors to “Please be on the lookout for this case” if it appears in the DA’s records. The email’s header read “BOLO Singer John Legend Victim of Attempted Auto Theft.”
That email, according to L.A. County Deputy DA Jonathan Hatami, was a slap in the face to crime victims who haven’t received the same type of attention from the DA.
“This specific case, it has the appearance of impropriety because he’s trying to get the case before it’s even filed, before the case is even presented, and so that’s unusual,” Hatami told KTLA’s Kareen Wynter.
Hatami and other prosecutors believe Legend’s case received special treatment because of his prior endorsement of Gascón.
“You have somebody, John Legend, who has given him money, he’s given George Gascón money. John Legend – who’s had fundraisers for George Gascón, John Legend whose friends with George Gascón, and now you’re going out of your way to find the filings before they’re even presented to a DA and it sure looks like you’re trying to give him favoritism,” Hatami said.
Legend hasn’t just supported Gascón on the campaign trail, but online as well.
“Our new DA just announced some major reforms on his first day,” Legend tweeted in Dec. 2020. “Proud to have supported his election. This is the kind of change we voted for and the kind of change we need to bring our system closer to true justice.”
A statement from Tiffany Blacknell, director of communications for the DA’s office, read in part:
“The allegation that we gave preferential treatment to a case involving John Legend is baseless. It is the routine practice for the Head Deputy of the Charge Evaluation Division to seek information on all cases generating media interest. This matter was received the same way any media case is treated by the filing unit. Our office did not file this case. It was referred to the L.A. County Attorney’s Office back on November 23 for misdemeanor filing consideration.”
Neither LAPD or the DA’s Acting Head Deputy have responded to KTLA’s request for comment.