Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has had his battles since taking the helm in 2019 of the 18,000 member county department. Villanueva came under fire when he moved to enforce the closure of gun stores during the 2020 pandemic and the subsequent Newsom statewide lockdowns. A Change.org petition was started to gain support to recall him but never received much traction. Villanueva has recently gained new favor with his support of crime victims who have been affected by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon’s Special Directives. Villanueva has also publicly supported the Gascon Recall efforts.
Despite this newfound goodwill, Eliezer “Eli” Vera, a Senior Staff Sheriff’s Deputy, is ready to take advantage of Villanueva’s inconsistent record and challenge him in 2022.
Vera has risen through the ranks of the LASD, serving at the Men’s Central Jail, the Lynwood, Lennox, Compton, Century and South Los Angeles stations, the Detective Division’s Cargo Theft Criminal Apprehension Team, as an executive aide in the Office of the Sheriff, in the Reserve Forces Bureau and the Communications and Fleet Management Bureau.
He was promoted to the rank of chief in December 2018, overseeing the department’s Central Patrol Division. In January, he transferred to the Technology & Support Division, where he oversees the Scientific Services, Data Systems, Records & Identification and Communications & Fleet Management bureaus.
Vera is a former U.S. Marine. He and Villanueva have worked closely together in the past, when both were sergeants at the Lennox Station in the early 2000s. Vera also consulted on Villanueva’s campaign for sheriff in 2018, and praised his aptitude shortly after the November 2018 election.
NBC4 Los Angeles isolated some key factors in an announcement of his candidacy:
“I believe as law enforcement officers our mission is to bring calmness and civility and peace to very difficult situations. And what we’ve witnessed from the current sheriff is someone that when someone disagrees with him, we see nothing but utter disdain and contempt,” Vera said as he announced his candidacy Wednesday morning in Grand Park, surrounded by his wife, children, mother and grandchildren.
“I believe an organization is as a reflection of its leader. The community looks to law enforcement to be the voice of reason during its worst of times. Unfortunately, at the present time, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has developed a reputation for contributing to contention during trying times,” Vera said in a statement issued later Wednesday.
The local report then offered this insight:
Villanueva has clashed repeatedly with the Board of Supervisors regarding a number of oversight issues. The board voted to explore ways to remove him from office in November 2020 before later backing off.
If the useless LA Board of Supervisors looked to remove him, Vera might be a credible choice the people of Los Angeles County can get behind.
But, according to The Current Report, Vera has an even more colorful record alluding to past ethical and criminal violations.
In the case of Tappan Zee v. James P. McDonnell et al, Vera was a named defendant in the charges against then-Sheriff McDonnell that include:
- RICO violations
- Wrongful Termination
- A few more FEHA complaints
The piece also shows that Vera subsequently filed a second suit against the County of Los Angeles alleging political retaliation:
Simultaneously, Vera filed as the plaintiff in the second suit (that we have found so far), against the county for political retaliation.
In the 2014 race for Sheriff, Vera was a vocal supporter of candidate Jim Helmond, the same race his co-conspirator in civil case #1, Jim McDonnell ran for (and won).
Apparently, Vera’s support for Helmond didn’t go over well with the guys at the office prompting him to file his suit October 10th, 2017 and believe it or not, is scheduled to go court Monday, May 3rd, 2021.
How’s that for timing?
The Zee lawsuit reached a settlement, and the case was dismissed without prejudice.
It will be interesting to see if these alleged ethical breaches and the dismissed Zee suit rear their head, particularly if Jim McDonnell chooses to enter the 2022 Sheriff’s race.