Unsealed Affidavit In Criminal Case Against George Gascon's 'Ethics' Deputy Reveals Depths of Corruption

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A recently-unsealed affidavit in the criminal case pending against Los Angeles County DA George Gascón’s Ethics and Integrity Assistant shows how Gascón’s management team believes they are above accountability and gives a stunning behind-the-scenes look of how Soros DA lieutenants operate on behalf of their elected bosses.

That Assistant District Attorney, Diana Teran, was arrested in late April and charged with 11 felonies related to the “unauthorized use of data from confidential, statutorily-protected peace officer files.” According to a press release from California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Teran “accessed computer data including numerous confidential peace officer files in 2018, while working as a Constitutional Policing Advisor at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), and, after joining the LADA in January 2021, impermissibly used that data at the LADA.”

And, according to a report by RedState’s Managing Editor Jennifer Van Laar, there are claims by former LASD deputies that Teran engaged in unethical conduct related to Internal Affairs Bureau investigations during her time at that agency.

READ MORE: A Massive Scandal Is Brewing in Los Angeles After DA George Gascon’s Number 3 Is Charged With 11 Felonies

Among the many eye-opening revelations from the affidavit of California DOJ Special Agent Tony Baca, a computer crime investigator with 21 years of experience:

  • The investigation began after Teran’s boss, Joseph Iniguez, threatened to use his position to put police officers who arrested his fiancé for DUI in December 2021 on the Brady list.
  • Though Teran is charged with 11 felony counts, her conduct could have been charged much more aggressively.  
  • An investigative criminal grand jury was used in this case, and the investigator states, “I have not included each and every fact known to me concerning this investigation.” It is possible the unethical conduct runs much deeper than just an 11-count felony filing against one executive.
  • Because the case was filed so conservatively, the prosecutors have limited their case to the incidents in which they have overwhelming evidence.  

Who is Diana Teran?

Teran has been working in Los Angeles criminal law and police oversight for decades, starting as a Deputy DA in Los Angeles in 1988. After working as a criminal appellate defense attorney for 10 years, she took various police oversight positions with the County of Los Angeles, LASD, and the Los Angeles Public Defender before returning to the District Attorney’s office in January of 2021, one month after George Gascón took office.

In short, police “oversight” has been her life’s work going on decades now.  A logical hire for George Gascón, who ran on such rhetoric as:

  • “[… W]e have a national crisis of overmilitarized, unaccountable police forces.”
  • “I am deeply troubled by the current state of law enforcement […]”
  • Promising to “[e]stablish […] a registry of disreputable law enforcement officers.”
  • Promising to “creat[e] a standardized process that facilitates the transfer of officers’ misconduct histories […].” 

What is she accused of doing?

In short, rather than “creating a standardized process” to build a “registry of disreputable law enforcement officers,” Ms. Teran is accused of using computer access she had while working at the LASD to further Gascón’s political goals of building that “registry of disreputable law enforcement officers.” When it comes to confidential personnel records at any employer, that is a big no-no. And when it comes to police confidential personnel records, which are strictly governed under special state laws for safety reasons, that is an extra big no-no.

What did we know already?

Ms. Teran was accused of 11 felony counts of Penal Code 502(c)(2), Accessing and Using Computer Data Without Permission. The 11 counts, in total, carry a maximum sentence of just under 10 years in prison. However, that is reduced greatly under California prison release rules, not to mention how a judge would actually sentence if she were convicted at trial. Absolute worst-case scenario, she is probably looking at about a year in custody in county jail, but it’s more likely that she would receive a probationary sentence with very little – or no – time in custody.

We knew very little about the facts because, unlike in federal court, California state prosecutors rarely spell out actual facts and evidence in their filings. More typically, only the name of the crime with a date of offense is stated, as is the case here.

We did know, however, that Ms. Teran has already been accused of taking ethically questionable actions in support of her boss. In the lead-up to the 2022 midterms, Ms. Teran delayed making public a finding that an officer would not be charged with a crime because it would help Mr. Gascón’s longtime political opponent Alex Villanueva in his soon-to-be-held re-election bid, according to the accusation. (Villanueva lost.)

Revelations about Ms. Teran’s Conduct

Given the explosive revelations in the affidavit, Teran being charged with several felonies is just the tip of the iceberg. Those eleven counts only refer to the deputies whose personnel file was illegally used in the following manner:

  • There is a saved record in Sheriff Department auditing software of Ms. Teran accessing that deputy’s file.
  • That deputy’s record is one of the 33 names and records Ms. Teran sent to a subordinate prosecutor (Deputy District Attorney Pamela Revel) in an April 26, 2021 email serving as “tips for inclusion” in the “disreputable” officer database.
  • There was no findable public release or record of any kind in regards to that deputy as of April 26, 2021.

However, Ms. Teran’s conduct was allegedly far broader than that. For example, just because a public record existed somewhere in the public sphere in regards to a particular deputy doesn’t mean that’s the record Ms. Teran relied on in making her “tips” to subordinate prosecutors. In fact, that’s quite unlikely given that the affidavit states that of those 33 names “tipped” via email, “[m]ost of the documents were unsigned tentative Superior Court decisions regarding civil service proceedings.” This is notable because unsigned Superior Court decisions are never public. Indeed, this is probably an unspoken message by the investigator to the reviewing judge, who will be well aware that these are not publicly available documents. Teran was not sending news articles; she was sending court rulings in draft form that only she and a few others had access to. In fact, the affidavit states that 10 of the documents “appeared to have been scanned, copied, or directly taken from [Los Angeles Sheriff Department] files.” 

Second, the Attorney General is proceeding only on those names that were sent in this one email to one subordinate prosecutor (Revel) who was “incredulous and concerned” over some of the contents in the email. But the affidavit makes clear Ms. Teran was pushing many more names on her subordinates based on knowledge she had gained through access to personnel files. Four other Deputy DA’s were interviewed in total, and none could account for how Ms. Teran was getting the information she was giving them. 

“[S]he would serially provide names of a deputy sheriff along with a reason, i.e. conduct, and date for possible inclusion in the [impeachment] databases (one or two at a time). [Head Deputy District Attorney Brian] Shirn said that this was the first time that a source for potential [impeachment] information was individual names provided by a supervisor.” 

Given that Teran had only been in her position for several months at this time, but would go on to serve for many more, the additional potential victims may number in the dozens or hundreds.

This is all to say nothing of the arguable interpretation of Penal Code section 502(c) that Ms. Teran, on these facts, did not even have to attempt to place it in the database to complete the crime. All the crime requires is taking or copying the data without permission. Obviously in her oversight role with LA Sheriff, she has permission to access data in the scope of her work. But taking legally-protected personnel files with her to a new job is enough illegality on its own to bring it outside of the permission she was initially granted. Taking this expansive theory, her number of felony counts could number in the hundreds if not thousands. 

Granted, if she gives a reasonable theory for why she took some of those files, then that would be reasonable doubt right there. And that gets to what was done here; this case was filed in way that prosecutors might term “tight” or “conservative.” That is not a derogatory term; many or most prosecutors consider that synonym for “responsible.” That prosecutors used their discretion to charge the counts they can most easily secure the end result they desire is nothing new.  That often means charging the easiest counts to prove, as is the case here. George Gascón’s political opponent, Nathan Hochman, proved prescient when he tweeted back in April:

“AG Rob Bonta, a huge Gascón supporter in 2020, would not have charged Gascón’s No 3 in charge (Diana Teran) unless the evidence against her was rock solid.” 

Revelations About the Origins of the Investigation

The affidavit also provides incredible details as to how the investigation began.  In short, Rob Bonta’s California Department of Justice was forced to investigate the management of LADA’s law enforcement witness database because one of George Gascón’s other lieutenants made it an issue during an unrelated arrest of his own.

The chain of events here is complicated. First, in December 2021, Gascón lieutenant Joseph Iniguez (formal title Chief of Staff) was riding shotgun home from a wedding in a car driven by his fiancé. His fiancé was pulled over, and investigated for being DUI. Mr. Iniguez was so disruptive during the investigation that he was also arrested. He threatened to use his position to add the arresting officer to the database of “disreputable” law enforcement officers. That threat triggered an investigation by the California Department of Justice, which oversees such databases, into whether Iniguez committed wrongdoing in regards to the database. Video of the incident was also released last week:

That investigation, according to the affidavit, “led to the conduct” of Ms. Teran. In other words, one Gascón lieutenant’s alleged misuse of their position of authority to undermine police was discovered because anothe Gascón lieutenant allegedly used another position of authority to undermine a police investigation into himself.  

Where does it go from here?

Ms. Teran’s arraignment was scheduled for July 1 but has been postponed until July 17. Progress is likely to be very slow in this type of case. Digital forensic discovery in a case such as this will be voluminous and difficult to navigate for a defense attorney. There will likely be motions Teran’s defense team will want to bring at multiple stages of the prosecution. Furthermore, there is looming election of her boss, George Gascón. He faces his first re-election fight in November, and would presumably prefer this stays out of the headlines as much as possible. A continuance beyond the November election would not be abnormal for a case of this type even if it was not politically convenient.

The only reasonably likely scenario I see where this gets resolved before the election is if California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office works out an early sweetheart deal with Ms. Teran. There are some reasons to believe this could happen:

  • She presumably has no criminal record.
  • The crimes charged are not violent.
  • She will likely be lionized by the far left anyway for making mistakes in the politically correct direction (anti-law enforcement). This is already evidenced by the LA Times running their piece analyzing the affidavit with the headline, ‘kind of bunk.’ A cushy professor gig at some local law school would seem a likely landing spot, and indeed already has been for one of George Gascón’s departed defense attorney-turned advisors.
  • George Gascón’s policies of generously handing out diversion (i.e., keep your nose clean for some length of time and we dismiss the case) work in her favor. She has an argument: why should I be treated differently in LA than other people just because the AG and not the DA is prosecuting me?  A diversion agreement could be a good way to get the bad headline out of the way once and move on without opening up a can of worms. (See next section.)

Is anyone else implicated?

What is still unclear is whether the investigation is complete, or there are more revelations to drop. Ms. Teran was alleged to have rather blatantly and persistently, in front of multiple lawyers, ignore the rules for handling sensitive police personnel records. How likely is it that nobody else in power knew what she was doing? If they knew, did they encourage it? Facilitate it? Did George Gascón hire her because he knew she would do it? These are questions an investigator might be motivated to get answers to, especially if evidence not spelled out in this affidavit supports it.

Special Agent Tony Baca does write in the affidavit: “I have not included each and every fact known to me concerning this investigation.” While that is the case in any arrest warrant, what is rare is that a reference to an “investigative criminal grand jury” was dropped on Page 10. A very small percentage of cases (well less than 1 percent) in Los Angeles come via grand jury. This would be a case that is suitable for a grand jury, but the descriptor of “investigative” may be a hint that the investigation is casting a wider net than just Ms. Teran’s conduct. As a former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney myself, I find that less likely than not, overall, but not impossible.

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