SANTA ANA (CNS) - A former Orange County sheriff's deputy has been indicted for allegedly filing a false police report in connection with the evidence booking scandal in which many deputies failed to file evidence or did so long after an incident.
Edwin Mora is charged with a felony count of filing a false report, according to court records. He pleaded not guilty Aug. 13 and is due in court Sept. 22 for a pretrial hearing at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
A message left with Mora's attorney, Robert J. Hickey, was not immediately returned.
In June, two former deputies, Joseph Anthony Atkinson Jr., 39, and Bryce Richmond Simpson, 31, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of willful omission to perform their official duty. The fired deputies were sentenced to a year of informal probation.
The evidence scandal unearthed by Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders has sparked a conflict between Sheriff Don Barnes and Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, who has claimed the sheriff surprised him with the issue, while Barnes has argued that prosecutors earlier rejected charges against any of the deputies accused of sloppy evidence booking.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Carrie Braun released the following statement about Mora's indictment.
“This case, as well as 14 others, were investigated by the Orange County Sheriff's Department and submitted to the District Attorney's Office for criminal filing consideration. All of the cases were rejected for prosecution by the District Attorney's Office. After the rejection of the cases, the Sheriff's Department completed its internal administrative investigation.
“As a result, Mr. Mora was dismissed from employment in August 2019. In November 2019, following media reports regarding the evidence audit, the District Attorney requested the department's criminal investigation case files back for reconsideration.”
According to the statement, “numerous protections have been implemented” since the completion of the first evidence audit.
“The department has created a new records division, updated technology and procedures for the evidence booking system, and created additional layers of process and oversight to ensure evidence is correctly booked,” the statement says. “We have taken this issue and the associated investigations very seriously, held employees accountable who did not meet performance expectations, and have implemented multiple safeguards to ensure this will not happen in the future. The charges filed speak to the integrity of the investigation that was conducted by the Sheriff's Department nearly three years ago.”