Capt. Amy Le, who led the Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA) and went to bat for Sheriff Laurie Smith in her last election, was served a letter charging her with wrongdoing, stripped of her badge and escorted off the job Friday.
Sheriff spokesman Sgt. Reggie Cooks said he couldn’t disclose why that happened and offered the following official response: “In fairness to the employee and the entire Sheriff’s Office, we caution against speculation and we cannot comment on personnel matters.” In a phone call Tuesday morning, an audibly crestfallen Le declined to talk about the situation for the same reason.
ABC7 broke the news Monday, citing sources who claimed Le got in trouble for having inmates build a gazebo and barbecue at the Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas.
Officials who spoke to Fly in subsequent interviews said that wasn’t the real reason. For someone of Le’s rank to get abruptly walked out and kicked into paid leave, the allegation would have to be pretty serious, according to sources who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak to the media.
Two officials familiar with the investigation, however, said Le is not accused of a crime and that the issue is a disciplinary matter—albeit a serious one.
Various news reports have noted that Le has consistently ranked as one of the highest overtime earners in the agency, and that she was one of several officials present when mentally ill inmate Andy Hogan last summer sustained critical injuries from hitting his head against the inside of a transport van. Yet sources tell Fly that those two issues also have no bearing on the personnel probe underway.
Le has spent the past three decades working her way up at the Sheriff’s Office, becoming the first Asian female correctional officer and the first woman to lead this county’s CPOA, replacing Sgt. Lance Scimeca in 2016 after his ouster for taking part in a virulently racist, homophobic, transphobic and sexist texting scandal.
As head of the union, Le steered $100,000 of member dues to Smith’s sixth re-election campaign last year. Her CPOA presidency ended upon her promotion earlier this year to captain, a high-ranking enough position to disqualified her for the union representation that would’ve probably helped her out of the jam she’s in now.