Orange County Public Defender Files Motion Alleging Illegal Eavesdropping, Perjury by Law Enforcement

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Santa Ana, CA – Public Defender Scott Sanders filed a motion recently in Orange County Superior Court on behalf of his client Brittany Shahbakhti seeking peace officer personnel records related to Deputy Sheriff Matthew LeFlore.

Sanders alleges that “in his capacity as the lead officer he committed acts of misconduct, which included writing a report containing false and misleading information.”

The focus of this motion is what is alleged to be the “multiple law violations and acts of moral turpitude committed by LeFlore in connection with his illegal eavesdropping of telephone calls from Taylor Camuferguson to his attorney Jon Andersen. The calls at issue were made in 2017, when Camuferguson was incarcerated at the Theo Lacy Facility.”

Sanders explained to the Vanguard, “The officer’s listening on the calls, which he gives away because he writes notes to make it appear that he can’t tell an attorney is on the line.” He said, “He’s listening to these particular calls because this lawyer filed a complaint against him.”

Sanders, “The calls reveal an unethical officer unmoved by the fact than an attorney both was on the call and had implored law enforcement during the call to stop listening.”

Back in 2019, the Sheriff’s Department was “confronted with compelling evidence that LeFlore repeatedly eavesdropped upon calls between Camuferguson and Andersen, based upon an audit of inmate phone calls to their attorneys that had been accessed by OCSD personnel.”

Sanders in the motion explains that the audit came a year after the inmate-phone call scandal emerged and included a log of law enforcement notes about the access calls.

According to the motion, “The records showed that Leflore had accessed seven calls to Andersen, and according to his own log entries listened to five of Camuferguson’ s calls to Andersen. The OCSD neither publicly disclosed the audit nor investigated any of its personnel identified as accessing attorney-client calls, including Leflore.”

Sanders told the Vanguard that in 2020, they had subpoenaed materials in the case People v. Ryan Franks.

During the course of that subpoena, the department turned over the audit.

Sanders explained, “In that audit there were over 300 attorney-client access calls that were identified.”

LeFlore, he found, had accessed the calls to attorney John Anderson.

“There were log notes for those calls,” he said.  “The log notes are kind of devastating because he admits to listening to five calls and on the fifth, he writes a note intending to suggest that only when listening to that fifth call did he know there was an attorney on the line.”

Records of the calls accessed by LeFlore and his log notes were among the responsive records recently obtained by the defense pursuant to a subpoena served in this case.

In the motion, Sanders noted that they were eventually able to obtain the recordings of the calls themselves.

“We were able to recently obtain the calls, through some much needed and unexpected luck.  In fact, the Sheriff only learned we had them for the first time when we filed the motion,” Sanders told the Vanguard.

Sanders said it is absurd to believe that LeFlore didn’t know the attorney was being called, both because that particular attorney had complained about him and because the call was to the attorney’s publicly listed number.

“The telephone calls upon which LeFlore eavesdropped are nothing short of extraordinary,” the motion noted.

It claims that in addition to LeFlore intentionally listening to those phone calls, that the content from those calls “would have quickly confirmed for him” that he was “listening to attorney-client communications,” he “created intentionally misleading log notes to make it appear he was unaware,” “initiated a retaliatory investigation of Camuferguson after listening to the calls, which culminated in new felony charges.”

Finally, Sanders noted that LeFlore “committed perjury at the preliminary hearing in this case… during testimony that included claims he was unable to recall any of what he heard during his eavesdropping.”

Anderson was aware of these problems at the start.  Sanders told the Vanguard that Anderson went to the DA several months before his client was reincarcerated on his probation violation.

He informed the DA that LeFlore “did some really dirty stuff” and writes two letters to the DA.

In the motion, Sanders noted, “Andersen gave multiple admonishments to law enforcement members that they were not permitted to listen to the calls. LeFlore, though, was far too curious to learn what was being discussed to respond with a modicum of self-restraint.”

In the first call, Sanders notes in the motion, “Less than three minutes into this call, LeFlore heard discussions about whether Deputy District Attorney Lorri Silverman would file criminal charges in the LeFlore-investigated case, which up to that point, had led solely to a probation violation. Camuferguson asked Andersen if there was ‘anything new,’ referring to his case. Andersen replied, ‘Nothing.’”

The motion continues, “LeFlore certainly remained locked into the conversation as it turned to him.”

Camuferguson asked: “I wonder if he realizes he kind of screwed himself on his wording again. Because the rest of the cops said exactly what I said. You know?”

Andersen replied: “Yeah, they really did. They really did. It’s amazing. Absolutely … ”

The discussion continued to focus on LeFlore.

Camuferguson said, “They probably just don’t want to release his report now[,]” and Andersen agreed.

Camuferguson stated: “Fucking hate that guy[,]” and, again, Andersen agreed, saying, “Yup. Yup, I don’t know what his deal is. ( .. ?)piece of shit.”

Andersen continued: “And that’s all there is to it.”

Camuferguson, concurring, said: “Yeah. [clears throat] I’m hoping he doesn’t try to pull some shit though where like I sign and then he fucking drops some bomb on me or something. That would suck.”

Andersen was also concerned: “Oh, well who knows what that guy is gonna pull. He’s uh …. he’s, he’s a piece of freaking shit. I have no idea, but, uh, you know, the–fortunately the D.A. and everybody knows he’s a piece of shit.”

What they ended up “pulling” “was a retaliatory investigation that would lead to new felony charges for Camuferguson.”

“At this point, the Sheriff is not contesting the in camera hearing where the court would look at LeFlore’s personnel records to make a disclosure determination. But the real question is what they do about LeFlore, who is still working at the jail where the accessed calls were made,” Sanders told the Vanguard.

He explained, “Of course their instinct is to protect their own, but this is messy because the (accused) has active cases.

He continued, “It’s not like the situation in the informant scandal. Many of the officers implicated in that scandal did not have active cases. However, here the situation is different. Even after we raised these issues about LeFlore two years ago, LeFlore was left in the field to investigate. The fact that he illegally listened to calls and committed perjury, therefore, becomes relevant to his credibility in those cases, as well.”

To bolster this case, LeFlore unquestionably hears the admonition on the fifth call.

The admonishment reads: “This is a telephone call between attorney/clients. Attorney Jon Andersen 174331 and his client. Anyone who attempts to listen to this, especially that 5 foot tall, deceitful, lying Orange County Sheriff named LeFlore, we’ll seek prosecution, guaranteed. So don’t listen in. Hey […], what’s going on?”

As Sanders explains to the Vanguard, “One of the reasons we argue LeFlore committed perjury is because he claimed in testimony that he had no recollection of listening in on these calls, even though the calls were so unforgettable.  Who would forget hearing this personal and biting warning in the midst of it illegal eavesdropping?  It was a lie when he testified he had no memory, and it’s one for which there should be consequences.”

Not only did they leave LeFlore in the field despite all of the complaints—they promoted him.

In January 2022, the motion noted, he was promoted to sergeant and assigned to the same jail where the eavesdropped calls were made.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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