SANTA ANA – Three years after being acquitted of bribery charges, a former Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputy is still fighting his former employer through an ongoing civil lawsuit accusing the agency of turning a blind eye to polices resulting in contraband and sexual liaisons behind bars.
David Cass is seeking a jury trial for an Orange County Superior Court lawsuit filed in 2015 that alleges that Sheriff’s Department higher-ups retaliated against him when he attempted to blow the whistle on jail policies, and wrongfully terminated his employment.
An Orange County judge recently scheduled a May trial date.
Attorney Garo Khajadourian, who is representing Cass, said his client isn’t looking for a financial windfall but is instead trying to get back lost wages. Despite being acquitted of criminal charges, Cass was unable to find work in Orange County, and had to move to Norther California to find a private-security job, his attorney said.
“He loved serving as a sheriff (deputy),” Khajadourian said. “This guy was a Marine, and he loves law enforcement.”
The defense attorney acknowledged that a key issue at trial will be whether Cass was forced out of the department, as he alleges in the lawsuit, or whether he resigned on his own, as the department’s attorneys contend.
Jaimee Blashaw, a sheriff’s spokeswoman, said Cass was hired in 2005, the subject of a criminal investigation, and “voluntarily separated” from the department in 2013. She declined further comment, citing pending litigation.
Attorneys for the county and the Sheriff’s Department did not respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit alleges that Cass first alerted co-workers and his supervisors of his concerns while working as a guard at the Central Jail Complex in Santa Ana. According to the lawsuit, he was concerned that “legal runners” who carried documents to and from inmates on behalf of attorneys and court officials were being allowed to enter the jail without being searched.
The department at the time considered the runners agents of the court, and the documents they carried protected by attorney-client privilege, the lawsuit alleges. As a result, the runners were allowed to meet with inmates outside of normal jailhouse visiting hours, according to the suit, and were provided a private visiting area in a soundproof location to carry out the meetings.
Cass was also concerned about a department policy that barred male deputies from searching female…