Orange County’s jailhouse informant scandal is drawing the eyes of civil rights attorneys at the U.S. Department of Justice, the Orange County Register reported Thursday.

In an email obtained by the Register, Justice Department attorney Christopher Cheng is quoted telling an attorney for the county he’s “‘keeping an eye’ on repeated allegations that local prosecutors and investigators are illegally using informants held in jails run by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department,” the Register wrote.

From the Register’s story:

Federal civil rights officials have been investigating Orange County’s jail system since December 2008, after an inmate was killed by other prisoners while a nearby guard watched “Cops” on television.

According to the email, Cheng said the Department of Justice is not ready to close the book on that investigation. Instead, the DOJ will wait to see how the county continues to monitor the Sheriff’s Department and how the jailhouse informant scandal involving Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas plays out.

“It is very important to the DOJ that there be oversight of the Sheriff’s Department,” [Senior Deputy Orange County Counsel Nicole] Sims said in an email to her bosses, which was relayed to county supervisors the same day.

As far as allegations that police and prosecutors are illegally using jailhouse informants, Cheng said “the DOJ is keeping an eye on it to see how it develops,” according to the email.

Click here for the full story.

You can contact Nick Gerda at, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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