MILPITAS, Calif. – A sheriff’s captain in California was put on administrative leave Friday and was escorted out of Elmwood Jail for allegedly using inmate labor to build a break area for correctional staff.
According to a report from I-Team at ABC 30, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Captain Amy Le is being investigated for the new arbor and barbecue grill made in Elmwood Jail. Le said that she wanted to create a space for staff members to relax, and apparently funded the project on her own dime.
But was using inmate labor as a payoff for members of the correctional staff frowned upon? That’s where the argument comes in.
Le says she came under fire by her superiors when they reportedly did not like her project. They also learned that Le had no building permit to complete the work.
But is that all that’s gone on? Perhaps not.
Reports indicated that in 2017, another captain had used inmate labor to build a storage shed. So what led to Le’s disciplinary action? Was it the project itself? Or was it political? Or did it just stem from the fact that it was being used for staff and not inmates?
Check out the grill area in its finished form.
Reggae and BBQ at Elmwood County Jail. Good times for staff, but the commander who built it has lost her badge and county vehicle. Working the story for top of the 6pm news. #ABC7now pic.twitter.com/ednR4DvzOf
— Dan Noyes (@dannoyes) June 4, 2019
Former jail officials weighed in on Le’s suspension.
“It’s very unusual for a captain to be walked off in that manner for a project that wasn’t for personal gain, on jail property. There may have been policies or procedures broken with regard to that project, but there must be more to the story,” said Retired Undersheriff and Chief of Correction, John Hirokawa.
Reports show that Le is well compensated for her position as captain. Her salary was set at approximately $142,000 base salary in 2017. Le reportedly received $449,767.49 with overtime and benefits that year.
ABC 30 reported that Le was a supervisor at the Main Jail’s sally port when a mentally ill inmate was beating his head against a post inside a transport van. The man reportedly suffered brain damage and his parents are suing the county and the Sheriff’s Department.
She was walked off the property on Friday in tears and was ordered to turn in her badge and her county vehicle.
Law Enforcement Today will continue to bring you updates to this story as the investigation into the allegations continues.