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City seeks refund

The county is responsible for paying off settlement claims, association says

Posted: April 27, 2009 10:14 p.m.
Updated: April 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Santa Clarita may join 39 other Los Angeles County cities that are hoping for a refund of $5.7 million they say was used inappropriately to settle claims against a former sheriff's deputy who was convicted of raping and sexually assaulting three women while on duty.

Forty of the 88 cities in the county contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for law enforcement. Each of those cities pays into a liability trust fund to pay for liability issues related to the Sheriff's Department's delivery of services.

Examples of liability could include wrongful shootings and allegations of excessive force during an arrest, according to an agenda report for tonight's meeting of the Santa Clarita City Council.

Santa Clarita, for example, pays a 6 percent annual surcharge - about $802,000 - into the fund, management analyst Tina Haddad said.

Former Compton-area sheriff's Deputy Gabriel Gonzalez was sentenced in 2006 to 30 years in prison after he was convicted of raping two women while on duty and sexually assaulting a third.

The California Contract Cities Association has argued the liability for the actions of the deputy, "who clearly acted outside the course and scope of (his) duties," does not fall to contract cities, according to the agenda report.

The council will be asked to support a tolling agreement, which would require more discussion between cities and the county before trust fund dollars are used, according to the report.

The Sheriff's Department's three-point test for assessing liability asks if an act was performed due to contractual service; occurred in contract city; or occurred during routine contract-city service.

According to tonight's agenda: "The past practice and understanding ... has been that the county bears the liability for cases of criminal conduct by sheriff's deputies."

The City Council is set to meet at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, located at 23920 Valencia Blvd.


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