In her fifteen year tenure as Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal
Care and Control (DACC), Marcia Mayeda has worked diligently to earn a reputation for violating California and federal laws, actively encouraging and engaging in corruption, ruthlessly killing pets taking vengeance on any of her department’s employees or volunteers who question her numerous illegal acts. Many DACC observers have wondered how Mayeda has been able to act with such impunity – as any other government official in such blatant violation would have been forced out, perhaps with criminal charges leveled against them, as recently happened with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.
The fact is that Mayeda has survived because of her cozy relationship with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and particularly outgoing Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who have constantly thwarted investigations into her misdeeds. Some DACC critics have alleged that the Antonovich- Mayeda relationship is extremely close and personal but we have seen no evidence to confirm this.
Mayeda’s reign of error may finally be coming to an end as a result of her malicious attempt to railroad former Baldwin Park Kennel Attendant Erika Valles into accepting an unwarranted misdemeanor charge for animal cruelty. As previously reported in our May 23rd blog, Valles was photographing and documenting the mistreatment of animals by Mayeda crony and former Baldwin Park Shelter manager, Pat “Google Me” Claerbout in October of 2014. Claerbout, who has a long and documented history of animal abuse, grew angry and saw an opportunity for revenge when a kitten Valles was fostering came down with panleukopenia – an extremely contagious, nearly always fatal disease that kills hundreds of kittens at Baldwin Park every year. Claerbout seized and euthanized the kitten, and with Mayeda’s blessing had criminal charges brought against Valles.
Because Valles could not afford to hire a lawyer, Mayeda must have thought it would be a slam dunk to get Valles to take a deal and plead guilty. The deal would have involved community service, but no jail time for Valles, and left her with a conviction for animal cruelty on her record.
Mayeda was wrong.
Erika Valles, an Air Force veteran and a highly principled human being, refused the deal and has demanded a jury trial. This could create serious problems for Mayeda, as Valles has been given leaked DACC documents showing that scores of kittens died in their cages of panleukopenia at Baldwin Park during the period when Valles was fostering and no one was prosecuted. A jury trial would also enable Valles to subpoena current and former Baldwin Park and DACC officials and question them under oath about a number of potentially embarrassing things, including an April 15, 2009 e-mail sent by a former DACC officer to the Board of Supervisors and Mayeda complaining about the systematic inhumane treatment of cats at Mayeda’s shelters. A public relations firm has volunteered involvement to ensure media coverage.
By the time Valles’s case gives rise to a whistleblower lawsuit Antonovich will be termed out and have finally left the Board of Supervisors. The question is whether the new Board of Supervisors will want to swallow another judgement – especially since they have been discussing how to to reduce the $59.9 million in civil judgments and settlements and $59 million in attorney fees awarded against Los Angeles County in the fiscal year 2014-2015.
Will the new Board of Supervisors tolerate Mayeda’s illegal and immoral acts, or will they try to mitigate the damage by kicking her to the curb? We like to believe in the wisdom and integrity of our elected officials. The strange prosecution or persecution of Erika Valles may be the litmus test to judge Los Angeles County’s elected government.