If you didn’t get forced to swallow goldfish or chug a fifth of Southern Comfort when you were a 19-year-old Sig Ep pledge, then you probably thought you’d be safe from experiencing hazing. Perhaps you thought that you’d finish your life without being forced to eat an entire pizza in one sitting or having to beat the clock while inhaling one ice cream sandwich after the other. But according to an absolutely bonkers set of allegations, food hazing was very much on the menu for grown-ass adults at the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the city originally launched an investigation into the department after Deputy Superintendent of Building Giovani Dacumos was accused of abusive behavior toward the employees he supervised. Dacumos, who had worked for the city for more than two decades, had been involved in an “intimate relationship” with a female coworker and he handled their breakup poorly. Very poorly. He allegedly threatened her, cursed at her, and told her that he would make her life “miserable” unless she agreed to date him again. During one terrifying incident, he also smashed a computer keyboard on her desk.
Dacumos—who has since resigned from his $200,000-per-year job—admitted that he was involved with the woman, but denied being abusive or violent, and said that wrecking that keyboard was just him being a big ol’ Butterfingers. “We were simply having a conversation and I immediately stood up and the keyboard came up to my chest,” he said in a court filing. “It dropped back down onto the desk and broke.”
The investigation also uncovered a lot of corruption, even by Los Angeles standards, including “unauthorized purchases, falsified invoices and $24,900 in payments to a consulting company that did not exist.” (If some of this doesn’t show up somewhere in the next Michael Connelly novel, I will be profoundly disappointed.)
But back to Dacumos and his alleged temper: according to Frank Bush, a general manager at Building and Safety, he (or other members of his department) forced employees to eat as a way of disciplining them. “If they didn’t get something done, or something did not go the way a manager wanted it to, that was their form of punishment,” he told the Times.
According to personnel reports prepared by the company, at least two employees were forced to eat entire pizzas “within a short period of time,” while others were given a set amount of time to eat “multiple” ice cream bars. (Are these supposed to be… bad things?) The city has turned its reports over to Jackie Lacey, the Los Angeles County District Attorney.
Perhaps she will eventually provide some additional details, like what kind of pizza they had to eat. If it was Papa John’s, then just throw the book at that dude. Throw an entire library at him.