A lawsuit in the hands of a Los Angeles jury alleges an LAPD sergeant was retaliated against by supervisors because he exposed a police captain avoiding tolls while driving his patrol car on the 91 Express Lanes between the 57 freeway in Orange County and the Riverside County line.
James Abbate claims in his suit seeking $2.7 million that he was forced into an early retirement and his night shift as the West Los Angeles station assistant watch commander was switched to days as retaliation.
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He alleges he was told by another sergeant in 2009 that Capt. Ruben De La Torre placed duct tape over his patrol car's license plate to avoid 91 Express Lanes cameras after the city received $240 in toll road fines.
Abbate adds that after he informed a lieutenant, a deputy chief and the Los Angeles Police Protective League about De La Torre's alleged actions, the retaliation began. Besides the shift to days, which made it difficult for Abbate to care for his mother, he says he was unjustly reprimanded for his handling of noise complaint and domestic abuse case.
Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Daniel Aguilera, who is defending the LAPD brass, counters the reprimands were justified, Abbate's day shift only lasted a month and that the ex-sergeant is engaged in a "money grab."