Despite the County’s War on “Deputy Gangs”, LA Sheriff Continues to Promote Tattooed Executives

After much resistance while he was Undersheriff during the previous administration, Tim Murakami finally appeared in front of the Citizen’s Oversight Commission to testify under oath regarding deputy cliques and subgroups within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

During the four hour testimony on March 7th, Murakami admitted to having a Caveman tattoo representing a subgroup at the East L.A. station, however, denied the tattoo was associated with nefarious or illegal activity, but instead, symbolized “pride” in the station, as well as being recognized for hard work.

“The intent of the deputies involved is not anything bad, but the way it’s being perceived now, it is detrimental,” Murakami testified about the tattooed members of the department. “That’s why, if people have one, I recommend they remove them.”

The commission considers the Murakami testimony to be a success according to Chair Sean Kennedy… but is it?

“After dodging the issue for years, Mr. Murakami under oath finally had to admit that he is a tattooed Caveman, and that more recently he altered his ankle tattoo to escape detection.” Kennedy told The L.A. Times.

Murakami may have removed the Caveman tattoo, but rest assured his loyalty to the department and the members he served with still remains. That was clearly evident by the responses he gave, which included not divulging the name of any tattooed members.


COC Chair Kennedy made note at the hearing that Murakami “is the third undersheriff to date to admit having one of these tattoos.”

It is unclear as to whether he was referring to current Undersheriff April Tardy, also a tattooed member of the department, who has described her tattoo much in the same vein as Murakami did under oath.

According to published reports, the Citizen’s Oversight Commission had knowledge of Undersheriff April Tardy’s “station tattoo” before her testimony on deputy gangs in 2022. However, despite the controversy over deputy gangs, the Board of Supervisors, according to sources, overlooked the tattoo and its potential meaning, handpicking her to serve as Undersheriff under Sheriff Robert Luna.

Tardy informed Luna about the tattoo when she was “interviewed” for the position of Undersheriff. “I wanted him to know that I did have a station tattoo and how I got the tattoo and what it meant to me … my dedication to the department, to the station where I worked and to the community that I served.”

After the story surfaced regarding Tardy’s tattoo, department sources confirmed most were aware she had one, but did not believe it was gang related as Temple station is not considered one of the six “hot stations” as listed in the COC report.

Undersheriff April Tardy.

However, according to department sources, there are some discrepancies in Tardy’s story surrounding the tattoo, referring to a “Master Training Officer” as the one who approved it. Sources reveal the Master Training Officer program did not begin until the early 2000s after Tardy had already left patrol. And, as with any tattoo, subgroup or station related, they must be “earned” by proving their loyalty, work ethic and officer safety out on the streets while on patrol. Rewarding an officer before they have proven themselves on the streets is virtually unheard of.

The circumstances surrounding how Tardy “earned” the tattoo continue to be a mystery.


On March 16th, 2023, Sheriff Luna boasted to COC commissioners that he was honored to spend his 103rd day in office at the first hearing on deputy gangs under his new administration.

Earlier that month, the COC released a scathing, in-depth report on deputy gangs at LASD of which the report stated deputy gangs existed within the Department “since at least 1973.”

Sheriff Luna answered questions from members of the commission regarding key issues in the report and confirmed that his second in command, Undersheriff April Tardy, has (what he referred to as) a “station tattoo”, however, news outlets reported the Undersheriff’s tattoo is in fact, gang and/or subgroup related.

That day, Luna promised the COC he was committed to eradicating deputy gangs, subgroups and cliques within the department, however, over the last year, his actions have proven it is virtually impossible to run the department, especially with severely depleted resources, without embracing long-standing members of LASD and its subgroup culture.

A custom mouse and mousepad in the regalia of the Compton Executioners sheriff’s deputy gang. (Court documents)

In fact, Luna has promoted multiple tattooed personnel who represent these subgroups to highly sought after executive positions despite having qualified candidates for those positions without any ink or subgroup ties.

Within the last 90 days, Captain John “JP” Macdonald, a known member of the Regulators while he was a patrol deputy at the Century station, was promoted to Acting Commander of Personnel.

                                          Photo by The Current Report

Macdonald previously held the rank of Captain of the Professional Standards Division that oversees training and personnel – including new recruits.

According to sources inside the department, Macdonald was chosen for that position over equally or potentially more qualified candidates with no gang affiliations despite “a new anti-gang policy is being negotiated with the deputy labor unions”.

The first year of the Luna administration, executives were aware of Macdonald’s Regulator ink and according to sources, promptly scratched him and others with ink from the promotions list due to the new department protocol.

However, this year, Macdonald advanced, promoting to Acting Commander despite his ink and “deputy gang” affiliation. Recently, the LA Times reported Macdonald is mentioned in a lawsuit regarding deputy gang related retaliation.

Macdonald worked closely alongside Laura Lecrivain at the Century station where he allegedly earned his Regulator ink. Lecrivain, the current Chief of Professional Standards Division, has her own ties to deputy gangs and was allegedly known to be a “foot soldier” and loyalist to former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, a member of the Lynwood Vikings, which was described as a “neo-Nazi, white supremacist gang” by a federal judge.

Tanaka was convicted of Obstruction of Justice (along with then-Sheriff Lee Baca) and sentenced to five years in Federal Prison in 2016.

Given her history and affiliation with deputy gangs, Sheriff Luna still chose to transfer Chief Lecrivain to oversee the “Professional Standards Division.”

Chief Lecrivain was also part of the County Equity Oversight Panel that ordered a “Do Not ReHire” placed on former Sheriff Villanueva’s file.


Prior to Luna being elected as the 34th Sheriff of L.A. County in 2022, he was Chief of the Long Beach Police Department.

With no knowledge of the inner workings of the LASD, Luna inherited – and leaned on – an executive staff of former Sheriff Villanueva loyalists who held key executive positions vital to the day-to-day operations of the largest sheriff’s department in the country.

In the midst of department chaos in 2023, including the suicides of ten department members, Luna committed to personnel he was going to make changes, but sources say there to continues to be an intense power struggle among the executive staff between the Villanueva and former Sheriff Jim McDonnell regimes.

McDonnell served as Long Beach Police Chief from 2010-2014 with Luna as his Deputy Chief before becoming Sheriff in 2014. It wasn’t until campaign season four years later that McDonnell began to publicly address the issue of deputy gangs.

Former Sheriff Jim McDonnell.

His efforts fell on deaf ears and Villanueva defeated him in 2018 (the first time an incumbent lost in the over 150-year department history).

However, collectively, the McDonnell and Villanueva loyalists continue to have a stranglehold at the executive level according to department sources, as loyalists form both regimes continue to hold coveted positions, including JP Macdonald, who was one of  McDonnell’s drivers (now acting commander), a sought after position. Sources say given McDonnell’s history with Luna and his tenure at the department, he is rumored to be advising behind the scenes, earning the title of “The Shadow Sheriff”.

This “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario has resulted in nothing more than a recipe for disaster and the pending new settlement with the California Department of Justice to include more oversight for the largest sheriff’s department in the country.

Is the California DOJ taking over the LASD?


According to sources, during the 2022 run for Sheriff of LA County, the Los Angeles Democratic Party worked closely with Black Lives Matter to push a black candidate for Sheriff.

The Black Lives Matter flags prominently displayed at LA County Democratic Party meetings.

In November 2021, LAX Police Chief Cecil Rhambo was formally notified by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP) that he earned a recommendation for endorsement from the Screening and Early Endorsement Recommendation (SEER) Committee. In order to receive the SEER Committee recommendation for endorsement, a candidate needed to receive 60% of the votes among eligible and present LACDP SEER Committee members. Rhambo garnered over 68% of the vote.

It became obvious with the early endorsement vote that if the LADCP had properly vetted their candidate, deputy gang affiliation by all accounts would have been a deal-breaker. Apparently, it has no bearing if you are their chosen black candidate.

A few months later, former LASD Captain and 2022 Sheriff candidate Matt Rodriguez, fired a warning shot via email to over 200 LADCP delegates shortly before their final vote to endorse a Democratic candidate in March Primary.

“Cecil Rhambo was the Assistant Sheriff during the period in which deputy subgroups/gangs flourished. The tattooed deputies were formed and empowered at Sheriff’s stations such as Century, Lennox, Compton, and East Los Angeles. Cecil Rhambo did nothing to eradicate deputies emulating gang members in the organization.

When pressed, I’m confident he will not identify any deputy gang member, and cannot recall a time when he disciplined a single one for violating civil rights or abusing people of color. That fact is in stark contrast to the rhetoric in his slick candidate videos. He talks of promising to decertify alleged deputy gang members, knowing full well he does not have the legal authority to do so.

His former partner, Paul Tanaka, was a known Lynwood Viking.  The group was deemed by Federal Court Judge Hatter as a Neo-Nazi organization. Factual or not, Cecil Rhambo was not dissuaded from associating with Tanaka on a daily basis. In fact, they promoted tattooed deputies throughout the department into positions of authority.

I encourage you to Google Cecil Rhambo’s name along with the words Deputy Gangs, and you will find his name prominently displayed as an associate gang member.” Rodriguez wrote.

Just a few weeks before, a photo of Rhambo in uniform, flashing gang signs, circulated social media. Insiders say the LADCP chose to pivot, withdrawing their support for Rhambo given all the information coming to light exposing Rhambo’s dark past, which was a key indicator the control over the Sheriff’s Department may be an issue – not for him – but for them, the L.A. County political powers that be.

Shortly thereafter, the LADCP and the Board of Supervisors pulled some strings and their perfect puppet candidate entered the race.

However, despite the smoke and mirrors and the puppeteering behind the new administration, rest assured, it is in fact the tattooed personnel who has been, and continues to be, in command of the most powerful positions at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

No strings attached.

Photo byUndercover LA

Cece Woods

The Current Report Editor in Chief Cece Woods started The Local Malibu, an activism based platform in 2014. The publication was instrumental in the success of pro-preservation ballot measures and seating five top vote-getters in the Malibu City Council elections.

During the summer of 2018, Woods exposed the two-year law enforcement cover-up in the Malibu Creek State Park Shootings, and a few short months later provided the most comprehensive local news coverage during the Woolsey Fire attracting over one million hits across her social media platforms.

Since 2020, Woods was the only journalist reporting on the on-going public corruption involving former L.A. Metro CEO Phil Washington. Woods worked with Political Corruption expert Adam Loew, DC Watchdog organizations and leaders in the Capitol exposing Washington which ultimately led to the withdrawal of his nomination to head the FAA.

Woods also founded Malibu based 90265 Magazine and Cali Mag devoted to the authentic southern California lifestyle.

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