Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas during a news conference on Wednesday, February 15, 2017.

By Tony Saavedra | tsaavedra@scng.com and Jordan Graham | jgraham@scng.com | Orange County Register
Published: May 26, 2017 at 4:57 pm
Updated: May 26, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Two investigators for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office say their top boss, Tony Rackauckas, as well as other county prosecutors and office supervisors, covered up criminal conduct by police and hid evidence in several high-profile cases.

The accusations, which include potentially criminal behavior, were made in whistle blower claims filed Friday by investigators Tom Conklin and Abraham Santos. Both investigators said they testified about their concerns in February before the Orange County Grand Jury. And both say they believe they’ve been targeted for dismissal as a result of speaking out.

A spokeswoman for the District Attorney declined to comment.

“Both claims are personnel matters involving litigation and as such we are unable to discuss or provide additional information at this time,” wrote Michelle Van Der Linden in a prepared statement.

It is the second time this month that Rackauckas has been accused by one of his investigators of using his office to help political supporters and retaliate against those who voice opposition. Craig Hunter, the former top investigator for the District Attorney’s Office — and one of the supervisors accused of wrongdoing by Conklin and Santos — filed his own whistle blower claim against the office, accusing Rackauckas of interfering with cases involving his friends. Hunter has been asked to resign; Conklin and Santos remain actively employed as investigators.

Combined, the claims filed Friday accuse top brass in the DA’s office of interfering in three high-profile cases — a drunk driving charge involving Fullerton’s former city manager, a potential capital murder charge in Cypress, and the investigation of a would-be shooting rampage at an elementary school.

One of the allegations, listed only by Santos, involves an election night car crash by Fullerton’s then City Manager Joe Felz on Nov. 9, 2016. A Fullerton police officer, who responded to the scene, notified the city’s then Police Chief Dan Hughes, who contacted a police sergeant and allegedly told him to drive Felz home instead of arresting him.

Santos’ investigation later concluded that Hughes was calling in a favor allegedly owed by a sergeant. That sergeant, according to Santos’ claim, had once been caught having sex in a police car but was never disciplined.

“Chief Hughes covered up the misconduct by his sergeant and, when he needed him in the Joe Felz DUI/attempted hit-and-run case, (the sergeant) repaid the favor to Chief Hughes,” said the claim.

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