LOS ANGELES (CN) - Los Angeles police officers bought and sold guns from the police armory for profit, and told the lieutenant in charge of the armory to "watch his back" after he reported it, the 25-year LAPD veteran claims in court.
Armando Perez sued the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department in Superior Court.
Perez, who joined the LAPD in 1987, claims he was retaliated against, suspended and threatened after he discovered, through his job as "Officer in Charge of the Armory," that officers in the Metropolitan Division were buying and reselling guns to other officers, civilians and gun dealers.
"In or around May 2010, plaintiff initiated a detailed audit of Metro's inventory of firearms," the complaint states. "While performing the weapons audit, plaintiff learned that both officers within the unit and civilians were purchasing special LAPD SWAT-stamped Kimber firearms intended for official use. Plaintiff also discovered that the officers within the unit were possibly reselling these Kimber firearms for large profits to people outside of Metro SWAT - to LAPD officers of various ranks, including captains, plaintiff's own commanding officer, Captain John Incontro (hereinafter, 'Incontro'), and to non-LAPD civilian personnel. Plaintiff also discovered that the officers, unbeknownst to Kimber (the manufacturer), were allowing Cinema Weaponry to purchase these pistols at discounted price, and were allowing Lucas Ranch Gun Sales to facilitate the transfer of the pistols from Kimber to the officers. Plaintiff also discovered records indicating that Officer James Quinlan (hereinafter 'Quinlan') and other officers were facilitating the sales of the Kimber firearms to these other non-Metro LAPD officers, non-LAPD civilians, and gun dealers."
None of the officers are named as defendants. The only defendants are the city, the LAPD, and "Does 1 through 100."
Kimber Manufacturing, a New York company that originated over 30 years ago in Oregon, makes highly regarded pistols.
Perez claims he reported the illegal sale of firearms, illegal kickbacks and fraudulent accounting to Incontro.
"Incontro asked plaintiff to look into the matter further to see how they could 'fix it in-house.' Incontro also asked plaintiff to take his name off the list of buyers, in light of plaintiff's discoveries," the complaint states.
Perez claims he also reported a possible inappropriate relationship between Officer Quinlan and a civilian commanding officer.
"Once Commander Kroeber suspected that plaintiff was looking into a possible inappropriate relationship between a subordinate and a commanding officer, Kroeber ordered the entire investigation, including the weapons sales, to be turned over to the Internal Affairs Group (hereinafter, 'IAG')," the complaint states. "Plaintiff was not informed of whether IAG performed an investigation into misconduct surrounding the weapons sales."
Perez claims that the IAG's "mere" 39-page long investigation "determined" that no misconduct had occurred. But he says the IAG did not interview him, Quinlan, or other key witnesses.
Then the retaliation began, Perez says: "On or about July 14, 2010, Quinlan made a retaliatory complaint against Perez. During his initial interview with IAG investigator Sergeant Melody Hainline (hereinafter, 'Hainline'), plaintiff reported the retaliatory acts and hostile work environment he was experiencing. The LAPD took no action in response to Perez's reports of retaliation. In stark contrast to IAG's investigation into the weapons sales, the investigation of Perez resulted in a two hundred fifty-seven (257) page report, which led to one allegation being sustained against him. On or about July 6, 2011, plaintiff was issued a retaliatory five-day suspension.
"On or about August 23, 2012, the Office of the Inspector General issued the OIG's Review of the Department's Quarterly Discipline Report for the Fourth Quarter of 2011, criticizing the LAPD's initial investigation into the sales of the SWAT Kimbers as deficient. The next day, the Los Angeles Times ran a story on the SWAT weapons sales and reported the potential violation of federal firearms laws and city ethics regulations. Following the LA Times story, the retaliation against plaintiff intensified. Plaintiff was ostracized, his reputation damaged, and [was] told to 'watch his back,' among other retaliatory acts."
Since reporting the illegal gun deals, Perez says, he has endured veiled threats, ostracism and his job responsibilities have been systematically removed in an attempt to force him to leave Metro.
Perez claims the LAPD and its chain of command know about this but "failed to take steps to prevent or undo the retaliation."
He seeks damages, physical and emotional injuries, lost wages, medical expenses and court costs.
He is represented by Matthew McNicholas with McNicholas & McNicholas.