Poker chips went missing
Efforts to prosecute an East L.A. deputy over allegedly stealing hundreds of dollars from a professional poker player have ended after the victim stopped communicating with police out of fear of retaliation from “deputy gangs” within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
According to an August memo from the District Attorney’s Office, an unnamed professional gambler was pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy for an expired registration after leaving the Commerce Casino around 3:00am January 2, 2020. He was put in the back of the deputy’s car while his vehicle was searched and then let go with a warning.
The poker player said he discovered that $500 in Commerce Casino poker chips were missing from his backpack, so he noticed the East L.A. sheriff’s station. The sergeant who took the call asked the three deputies on patrol that night; two replied that they didn’t make the traffic stop. The third, Deputy Braulio Robledo, didn’t respond, but later denied pulling the man over when asked again later.
After reviewing surveillance footage, the sergeant figured out that it was, in fact, Robledo who stopped the gambler. The poker player told investigators they could check security footage at the casino to confirm how many chips he had cashed out. They think he may have left with $300 and not $500, but that’s neither here nor there.
Not worth the risk
The problem with the investigation is that a few weeks later, the victim sad he wanted to drop the case out of fear of retribution of deputy gangs. In this case, the one he referenced was known as “Los Banditos.” He believed his life could be in danger if he got on the wrong side of the gang.
According to the Los Angeles Times, deputy gangs are a real problem in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, known for “running roughshod over certain stations and promoting a culture of violence.” Los Banditos is one of the best known ones, and multiple lawsuits against Robledo over the years have accused him of either being a member or prospective member.
Sean Kennedy, the chair of the Civilian Oversight Commission, and someone who is quite familiar with deputy gangs, was not happy with the district attorney’s choice to end its investigation.
“Instead, the D.A. blames the victim for being noncooperative and declines to prosecute,” he said. “This approach enables the LASD leadership to keep turning a blind eye to the problem of deputy gangs in the department.”
On Friday, the Sheriff’s Department said that it put Robledo on administrative leave and that the case is still being investigated internally.