latimes.com – By Alene Tchekmedyian – At Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s swearing-in ceremony in 2018, a section of seats up front was cordoned off for deputies from the East L.A. sheriff’s station. The special treatment raised eyebrows. The station had been under scrutiny at the time because of an alleged assault involving deputies linked to the Banditos — one of the controversial groups scattered across the department often referred to as “deputy gangs.”
Matthew Burson, at the time a captain in the Sheriff’s Department who was overseeing a criminal investigation into the assault, took particular notice.
“You’re sheriff of the entire county — you don’t single out one station as your favorite,” Burson, who was promoted by Villanueva to chief and is now retired, testified Friday before the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission.
Burson appeared as part of the commission’s ongoing public hearings into the “deputy gangs,” which have plagued the department for decades. Under oath, Burson said he was directed to steer the investigation away from the Banditos, confirming a written declaration filed in a lawsuit last month in which Burson said he was ordered to direct investigators not to ask questions about the group.