For the last 18 months, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has been investigating allegations that two deputies were involved in a murder-for-hire plot on behalf of a Mexican cartel.
A sheriff's spokesman said the probe is wrapping up, and investigators believe the allegations are untrue.
"We investigated it and found out it was completely unfounded," spokesman Steve Whitmore said. "People make allegations all the time that are just completely ridiculous."
A sheriff's lieutenant, however, contends that the allegations are being covered up by the department and has gone to the FBI to get the matter investigated thoroughly, her attorney said.
An FBI spokeswoman declined comment. The attorney, Bradley Gage, said federal agents interviewed Lt. Katherine Voyer and were recently given investigative documents.
Voyer is in the midst of a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Department in which she alleges she was retaliated against for being a whistle-blower. In a recent sworn deposition, Voyer said the allegations originated from a reliable inmate informant, according to Gage.
Gage did not provide The Times with a transcript of the deposition.
He said the inmate informant's allegations were brought to Voyer because she was a supervisor at the Inmate Reception Center, one of the sheriff's jail facilities. The inmate's allegations of a murder-for-hire scheme first gained credibility, Gage said, because he was implicating himself in the matter and providing a slew of specific details.
Many of those details, such as the deputies' locations at specific times on specific dates, ended up checking out when compared with sheriff's records, Gage said. He did not provide The Times with any documentation to substantiate those claims.
Whitmore said none of the informant's allegations checked out.
For example, Whitmore said, the informant alleged there was a body buried in the desert.
"We went out and looked, we went out and searched the area," Whitmore said. "There was no body. Nobody was reported missing. There was no murder, there was no nothing."
"This guy's own compadres, his own friends, said he's fabricating," Whitmore said.
The informant is a convicted child molester who knew the two deputies' names only because they were present when he was arrested, Whitmore said.
"This is a revenge against these deputies. That's what we believe," Whitmore said.
The allegations, however, took 18 months to investigate because they were so complicated, he said.
Because they didn't check out, sheriff's investigators are not going to present their findings to the district attorney's office, Whitmore said, but they will share the results with the FBI.
In her lawsuit, Voyer alleges that she was retaliated against for standing up against discrimination toward Latino deputies. The complaint says she was unfairly passed over for promotions. The lawsuit makes no mention of the murder-for-hire allegations.