It was a critical piece of evidence: an inmate’s shirt, bloodied from a jailhouse brawl.
When it went missing, Deputy Jose Ovalle had an idea.
He picked out a similar shirt, doused it with taco sauce and snapped a photograph, which was booked into evidence with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, law enforcement records show.
When confronted later, the deputy admitted to faking the blood.
Ovalle kept his job, but his name was placed on a secret Sheriff’s Department list that now includes about 300 deputies with histories of dishonesty and similar misconduct, a Los Angeles Times investigation has found. The list is so tightly controlled that it can be seen by only a handful of high-ranking sheriff’s officials. Not even prosecutors can access it.