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Illegal street racing is on the rise

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A Los Angeles deputy district attorney says her boss, Democratic District Attorney George Gascón, sent a plainclothes investigator to intimidate her at her home after she blew the whistle on a memo about the prosecution of street racing crimes, a high-octane problem in the county.

“There was absolutely no necessity nor reasonableness in that approach,” the prosecutor, Tatiana Chahoian, told Fox News Digital. “It was purely an intimidation tactic, particularly to someone such as myself who is working remotely due to a medical accommodation.”

According to Chahoian, she opened her door to find an envelope and a woman who identified herself as a sergeant with the DA’s Bureau of Investigation, an in-house police force.


Tatiana Chahoian gives FOX 11 LA interview

Deputy Los Angeles District Attorney Tatiana Chahoian found herself in hot water after an interview with FOX 11 Los Angeles in which she blew the whistle on a memo about how to prosecute street racing and street “takeover” cases in the county. (FOX 11 Los Angeles)

In Ring camera video, the woman can be seen repeatedly ringing the doorbell and stuffing a letter into the doorjamb before walking up and down the front yard multiple times and before Chahoian opens the door. The woman gives her name, then on her way out tells someone off camera, “She came to the door, this is just my partner,” before getting into a car and leaving.

“It’s ridiculous for Gascón to personally serve a Deputy DA with a letter saying they violated a personnel policy,” said Neama Rahmani, a Los Angeles trial attorney and former federal prosecutor. “It’s something that should be handled via email and gives the appearance that he did so to intimidate or otherwise send a message to a subordinate.”

The incident occurred days after Chahoian told FOX 11 Los Angeles she went into “a state of shock” after receiving a memo from Gascón’s head deputy for charge evaluation, John Harlan, which reportedly urged prosecutors not to pursue criminal cases against suspects accused of street racing, reckless driving and street takeovers that don’t result in injuries.


LA DA Investigator at DDA's doorstep

An investigator with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office dropped off a letter of reprimand at a young prosecutor’s front door last week, a move the recipient says was meant to intimidate her after she spoke out on a controversial new memo. (Courtesy of Tatiana Chahoian)

“It’s like saying if somebody shoots at somebody else, and they’re a bad shot, and they miss, we’re not going to file charges because nothing happened,” she told the station.

A representative for Gascón’s office declined to go into specifics about the case.

“We cannot comment on specific personnel matters,” spokeswoman Venusse Dunn told Fox News Digital. “Saying that, honesty is critically important to any prosecutor’s office. Addressing false claims made by district attorney staff or the media is a fundamental responsibility of this office. Failure to do so fuels distrust in the important work we do every day, undermining our duty to the public and to justice.”


“It’s something that should be handled via email and gives the appearance that he did so to intimidate or otherwise send a message to a subordinate.”

— Neama Rahmani, former federal prosecutor

In the hand-delivered reprimand, Gascón’s central operations director, Laura Kessner, chided Chahoian for allegedly failing to alert her supervisor prior to conducting a media interview, failing to indicate she was speaking in a private capacity during the interview and failing to characterize her comments as her own personal opinion.

Kessner also called Chahoian a liar.

“Your statements to the media were untrue, a misrepresentation of the communication from Head Deputy John Harlan, conflicted with the LADA [personnel policy handbook], and were misleading to the public,” Kessner wrote. “Your statements were also a disservice to your colleagues who work diligently every day to promote public safety in an ethical manner.”

District Attorney George Gascon speaks to media wearing navy blue suit and dark tie

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón is running for re-election amid harsh criticism and concerns about crime. (Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

Kessner quoted Harlan’s memo in the letter, which begins, “I am writing to highlight that Office Hearing/PDP referral is an option for street racing/takeover and other reckless driving cases (i.e., cases where no one has been physically injured).”

PDP refers to the pre-filing diversion program, a jail alternative historically offered to nonviolent, first-time offenders.

Kessner also noted Harlan’s letter “closed by saying that he ‘encouraged’ filing deputies to consider this program.”

Chahoian countered that the letter to her came across as an order.

tow truck with a car on top and police vehicles in the street of Los Angeles

The scene of a street takeover or street race in Los Angeles in August 2022. (LAPD Headquarters Facebook)

“My comments were entirely accurate,” Chahoian told Fox News Digital. “Everyone knows that when your boss ‘encourages’ you to do something, especially when your boss is Gascón, that’s not a friendly reminder.”

The office implemented the diversion program in 2021, she said.


LA street racing skid marks

LAPD investigators survey skid marks at a drag racing scene where two pedestrians were killed by the driver of a Ford Mustang who fled after the crime on Plummer Street Feb. 26, 2015, in Chatsworth. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“We had never received notification of it until now. Why? Because they want us to implement it now,” she said. “Why wasn’t it sent out to the whole office to implement this on existing cases? They only sent it to filing deputies, so that we decline these pending charges and refer them to office hearing.”

Jonathan Hatami, another deputy district attorney who is among a number of candidates vying to oust Gascón in the county’s Democratic primary Tuesday, said that whether the street racing memo should be considered a directive is unclear, but Gascón’s handling of the fallout was inappropriate and over the top.


“Gascón sent police officers to this young DDA’s home to deliver a threatening letter telling her to immediately stop talking to the media,” he said. “Again, no matter where you sit regarding our criminal justice system, these type of intimidation and bully tactics are not what we are about here in Los Angeles.”

Michael Ruiz is a reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @mikerreports

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