L.A. Deputy’s Poker Chip Theft Case Dropped
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office has chosen not to prosecute an L.A. County deputy who was accused of stealing $500 worth of poker chips from a professional player who had just left the Commerce Casino in Southeast L.A. county.
This decision came after the unnamed player, who initially reported the theft, withdrew his cooperation because of fears of retaliation from notorious “deputy gangs” within the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department (LASD).
Deputy Braulio Robledo has been placed on leave by the department, as confirmed by its representatives speaking to the Los Angeles Times.
“The Sheriff’s Department holds each of its members to the highest standards and expects them to act with integrity and professionalism,” the department said.
“Any employee that violates the public’s trust and engages in misconduct will be investigated and held accountable.”
“Deputy Gangs” Still an Issue
The alleged theft took place on January 2, 2020, when the poker player left the Commerce Casino around 3 a.m.
The Commerce Casino is the world’s biggest cardroom, according to its Wikipedia page, and one of the biggest California brick & mortar casino venues.
Shortly after leaving the casino, the player was pulled over by a deputy, later identified as Robledo, for an expired vehicle registration.
After a search of the player’s vehicle, during which the player was moved to the back of Robledo’s vehicle, the deputy let him go with just a warning.
It was only later that the player realized that $500 in poker chips was missing from his bag. When he reported the incident to the East L.A. sheriff’s station, the deputies on duty that night denied any involvement. However, security footage from nearby cameras showed an SUV, which was identified as the vehicle driven by Robledo, making the stop.
The fear of “deputy gangs” played a significant role in the player’s decision to withdraw his cooperation.
He specifically mentioned “Los Banditos,” one of the alleged gangs within the LASD. The department has been grappling with the issue of these gangs since the 1970s, and ongoing reports suggest they are still active.
Robledo’s Controversial Past
Robledo’s name isn’t new to controversies. He has been previously mentioned in two lawsuits as a member of the Banditos. Moreover, in 2018, alleged members of the Banditos were accused of assaulting several younger deputies at an after-station party, resulting in two of them being knocked unconscious.
While Robledo wasn’t directly involved in the assault, he was accused of instigating the violence in subsequent civil suits.
There was also a 2019 incident in which three women complained that the Deputy made inappropriate sexual remarks towards them. But no charges were ever filed.
“Although the behavior is unbecoming of a police officer, the facts in this situation do not lead to the conclusion that Robledo’s actions were unlawful,” prosecutors said at the time.
After this latest incident, the LASD has placed Robledo on administrative leave, and he remains under internal investigation.
The D.A.’s Stance
The District Attorney’s office stated in its memo that without a cooperating witness, it was impossible to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Robledo had committed the theft.
They also pointed out discrepancies in the poker player’s account, suggesting that he might have left the casino with a different number of poker chips than he claimed, and the missing amount might have been $300 instead of the reported $500.
According to the Los Angeles Times, however, many officers within the investigation did want to look further into Robledo’s gang connections and his role in the alleged incident.
One memo reportedly said that the poker player told officers he feared he “would be putting his life in danger” if he cooperated. The player then refused calls from investigators for several months before they abandoned the case.