SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Evidence in more than 22,000 closed cases will be reviewed by authorities in Orange County as part of the ongoing investigation into improperly booked evidence that has already resulted in the firings of five deputies.
Two audits conducted between February 2018 to February 2019 uncovered problems with deputies booking evidence outside of Orange County Sheriff’s Department policy. The issues included delays in booking evidence, with some instances taking more than a month.
Sheriff’s officials say 15 deputies have been investigated for the evidence booking issues and referred to the Orange County District Attorney for possible criminal charges. Five deputies have been fired to date and nine have been disciplined. One investigation is ongoing, according to the sheriff’s department.
“The vast majority of the men and women of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department are dedicated professionals who work every day to keep our community safe,” Barnes said in a statement.
The review began in December 2019 with more than 1,200 active criminal cases, according to the sheriff’s department. The review identified two more deputies for suspected issues, and they have both been placed on administrative leave and are the subject of internal criminal investigations in connection with the booking of evidence.
The approximately 22,000 closed cases that will be reviewed were identified by the district attorney’s office and happened between March 22, 2015 and March 22, 2018.