DA Spitzer faces another racial commentary complaint as three other prosecutors file lawsuit

A wave of lawsuits by Orange County prosecutors against their own boss over his handling of workplace harassment issues continues to mount.

This week, three more prosecutors came forward, one adding fuel to another prosecutor’s previous claims that DA Todd Spitzer used racist language that complicates criminal prosecutions.

To date, eight lawsuits have been filed by DA prosecutors – represented by two different lawyers, one of whom is himself a former prosecutor – alleging that Spitzer allowed his friend Gary LoGalbo to harass subordinates in the office. of the AD.

Two separate prosecutors allege in those lawsuits that Spitzer made racially inappropriate remarks.

Spitzer denied the allegations, saying his racial comments were appropriate and that he acted immediately to protect LoGalbo’s victims.

Still, prosecutors told county HR investigators that Spitzer initially tried to retaliate against a victim who came forward, and the HR investigator concluded that Spitzer was “not credible” in his denial.

This week, three other alleged LoGalbo victims filed lawsuits saying Spitzer had promoted LoGalbo — who had been best man at Spitzer’s wedding — to powerful prosecutorial posts three times in a year despite warnings from his executives.

In one such lawsuit, a top DA prosecutor of 20 years said that both LoGalbo and Spitzer made “racial harassment” comments while handling the cases.

“Mr. LoGalbo made representations to the plaintiff that cases should be assigned based on the race of the defense attorney, the prosecutor and the defendant,” states the lawsuit filed by the prosecutor, which is identified as “ Jane Roe Three” and was a high-ranking leader on the prosecutor’s special prosecution unit.

“Mr. Spitzer also accused plaintiff of being afraid to prosecute a defendant simply because of his race,” the new lawsuit adds.

[Click here to read the three new lawsuits: Jane Roe One, Jane Roe Two, Jane Roe Three.]

In response, Spitzer’s office provided a statement defending its handling of LoGalbo’s harassment allegations, but not responding to the new racial commentary complaint.

“The harassment allegations have been made against Gary LoGalbo,” Spitzer spokeswoman Kimberly Edds said.

“Allegations that District Attorney Spitzer shielded LoGalbo in any way or retaliated against anyone reporting harassment were completely unfounded by the outside investigator,” she added.

“In fact, he did everything he could to not only support the victims of LoGalbo and encourage all victims of harassment to come forward.”

The outside investigator, however, did not clear Spitzer of attempting to retaliate against one of LoGalbo’s harassment victims, noting testimony from DA staff who said he refused to bow to wishes. by Spitzer.

The allegations add to a string of racial bias allegations by Spitzer – including remarks he made during a meeting on the death penalty that caught the attention of prosecutors in the room.

In mid-February, documents emerged showing Spitzer sparked a storm of concern from prosecutors and a senior detective after he made racial remarks about black men dating white women at the time of decide whether or not to seek the death penalty against a black defendant.

Voice of OC was the first news agency to report on the concerns and the memos at the center of them.

Spitzer finally admitted that during the October 1 death penalty meeting, he asked prosecutors about the race of the defendant’s former girlfriends and said he had “seen black men dating women. white in certain circles so that others around them are more tolerant”.

In a scathing letter to the judge, the lead detective in the Buggs case wrote that Spitzer ruined the death penalty case by making racial remarks, then trying to cover them up by removing all existing prosecutors from the case and abandoning the death penalty effort.

Newport Beach Detective Court Depweg wrote to the judge that several current and former DA officials told him that Spitzer “made an unsolicited, derogatory and racist comment about black men/people” during the Oct. 1 meeting.

Regarding LoGalbo’s alleged harassment, a county HR investigation confirmed that he assaulted several female subordinates in the district attorney’s office.

That county investigation found Spitzer was “not credible” when he denied trying to retaliate against the first female prosecutor who came forward about LoGalbo.

The ongoing lawsuit storm alleges that Spitzer’s actions enabled sexual harassment by promoting the best man in his marriage to a senior position overseeing court staff in the district attorney’s branch, despite knowing that LoGalbo was a ” perverse” in his personal life.

Spitzer called those statements “false” in a text message to Voice of OC, but did not elaborate in response to further questioning.

New lawsuits note second county human resources investigation found Spitzer violated workplace policies sending the original harassment survey – which contained identifying details of the victims – to every employee in his office, and sacking one of the victims in an interview with Voice of OC.

“Investigator concluded that Mr. Spitzer ‘grossly violated’ the county [equal employment opportunity] and abusive conduct policies and acted “maliciously” toward the plaintiff and other victims of Mr. LoGalbo, which created a hostile and offensive work environment and “caused undue embarrassment and indignity to [Plaintiff]’, states the retrial.

“Mr. Spitzer, himself, admitted that the release of the report will create a ‘chilling effect’ on future victims of harassment within the OCDA,” the lawsuit adds.

While the county’s independent investigator confirmed in two separate investigations that women were harassed by men at the top of the district attorney’s office, the county’s Board of Supervisors took no action, the lawsuit says.

“Council took no remedial or preventive action against Mr. Spitzer, their former colleague,” the new lawsuit states.

“Council’s inaction sent a clear message to plaintiff, county employees and all citizens of Orange County that harassment, discrimination and retaliation when committed by politically well-connected men will be tolerated. by current board members. Supervisors,” they continue.

“The Board’s inaction also has real consequences for the work of OCDA employees. Some officials within the OCDA, who now believe there are no consequences for their behavior at work, have felt emboldened to publicly accuse Mr LoGalbo’s victims of lying about their experiences, despite the clear findings from a third-party investigator.

The five county supervisors declined to comment or did not respond – citing ongoing litigation – while supervisor Katrina Foley added that she was “deeply concerned” by the new allegations.

Spitzer touted his influence with county supervisors in discussions with DA staff, according to the new lawsuits.

“He recently told OCDA employees that due to his previous tenure on the board, he has a close personal relationship with and ‘access’ to all current board members. , implying that he can influence their vote and their governance,” the new state of the prosecution said.

Days before Spitzer was elected DA in 2018, one of his fellow supervisors publicly warned him that they had a lot of derogatory information about each other that they could use against each other. they wanted it.

Highlighting what he alleged was an effort by Spitzer to extort a county contractor for campaign money, supervisor Andrew Do warned Spitzer that more such information could come to light if he disturbs again these partner’work.

“Now I knew this information. I could have called out the perhaps alleged hypocrisy, if not the extortion tactics performed on the stage right here. But I didn’t,” Do said at a supervisors’ meeting in October 2018, after expressing frustration at Spitzer for handing out a memo to reporters that upset Do.

“I just wanted to make sure people don’t think that just because we’re not saying anything here, we don’t have information that we can use every day, every meeting, to smear each other. others. Agree?” Ne added.

The new lawsuits filed by DA prosecutors also allege that Spitzer’s No. 2 executive in the DA’s office, Shawn Nelson — who is running as a judge — downplayed LoGalbo’s harassment in order to protect Spitzer.

“Shawn Nelson, Mr. Spitzer’s second-in-command, told managers, in front of Mr. Spitzer, that ‘Gary has no real victims,'” one of the new lawsuits states.

“Mr. Nelson also called Mr. LoGalbo’s female victims a ‘chicken’ for not coming forward sooner, even though everyone was aware of Mr. Spitzer’s close relationship with Mr. LoGalbo.

Nelson, who was a supervisor at Spitzer and Do until he was fired in 2018, is seen as the favorite for the judge’s seat he is running for in the June election, having raised more than $200,000 for the race and run with a “Chief Assistant District Attorney”. » job title on the ballot.

Nelson did not respond to a message for comment.

He is the only candidate for the bench approved to date by the Orange County Republican Party.

Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at [email protected]

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