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Sheriff's official allegedly undermined probe of deputy misconduct

A jailhouse intelligence supervisor may have alerted a deputy about an informant's allegations that he was working with white supremacists inside the jail.

August 05, 2012|By Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times

According to sources, Rathbun and Sexton delivered their memo to Thompson. Allegations of serious criminal activity by deputies are expected to be forwarded directly to the sheriff's internal criminal division, which specializes in investigating deputies suspected of crimes. Those investigators will often use surprise sting operations to ensnare dirty cops. One deputy, for example, was recently caught in an undercover sting trying to smuggle a heroin-stuffed burrito behind bars.

Thompson allegedly revealed the contents of the memo to the accused deputy and asked him if the allegations were true, according to sources who described the allegations against Thompson and asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss an ongoing probe.

Thompson was recently transferred to the narcotics division, which also handles sensitive informant information. He has since been moved again, to the sheriff's Temple Station.

The inmate informant could not be reached. The Times is withholding his name out of concern for his safety.

An employee at the tattoo shop said that "Pest" used to work there but was recently arrested and jailed.

The deputy accused of working with the skinheads has been relieved of duty pending the ongoing probe.

Michael Rathbun also has been placed on leave in connection with an off-duty DUI incident.

David Rathbun said the way the case was handled would make it difficult to determine whether the accused deputy was guilty and would probably leave his son and Sexton ostracized within the department.

"You'll be labeled as a snitch for the rest of your career. You become a bit of a pariah," he said. "If you want people to cooperate, what you have to do is protect them. But the department doesn't help them once they do the right thing. They leave them out there to the wolves."

robert.faturechi@latimes.com

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