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Leslie Moonves Fined $15,000 for Obtaining Secret Intel on LAPD Sex Assault Investigation

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Leslie Moonves, the former CEO of CBS, was fined $15,000 on Wednesday by the L.A. City Ethics Commission for obtaining secret information in 2017 about an LAPD sex assault investigation of which he was the target.

The commission voted 4-0 to approve the penalty, which is the maximum allowed for ethics violations under the L.A. City Charter. The vote came two months after the commission rejected a $11,250 fine, finding it did not match the egregious nature of the violation.

The case, which reminded some observers of the police corruption depicted in “L.A. Confidential,” centered on Cory Palka, the retired commander of the Hollywood division. Palka also worked as a private security guard for Moonves for many years when the CBS chief would attend the Grammy Awards.

In November 2017, at the height of the #MeToo movement, former TV executive Phyllis Gottlieb walked into the Hollywood LAPD station to report that Moonves had assaulted her in the 1980s.

Within hours, Palka alerted a CBS senior vice president of the situation. The following day, Palka provided CBS with Gottlieb’s confidential police report. A couple weeks later, he met with Moonves at a restaurant to discuss the case, and he later advised that the case likely would not be prosecuted.

The misconduct was first revealed in a securities investigation conducted by the New York Attorney General’s office in 2022. The investigation concluded that Moonves had worked with Palka to try to suppress the story.

At one point, Palka sent a message to Moonves in which he professed his “allegiance” to the CBS chief.

After conducting its own inquiry, the commission found Moonves responsible for three violations of the city ethics code, including charges of aiding and abetting the release of confidential information and inducing another person to misuse their position.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of $5,000 per violation. In February, the commission staff recommended the reduced penalty of $11,250, noting that Moonves had cooperated with the investigation.

The commission unanimously rejected that settlement proposal. The commissioners expressed that the $5,000 limit should be increased, which would require putting a Charter amendment on the city ballot.

In February, the commission also rejected a $2,500 settlement with Ian Metrose, the CBS vice president who acted as an intermediary between Palka and Moonves. The commission staff has not reached a revised settlement with Metrose.

Moonves was fired in 2018 after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct came to light. Palka retired from the LAPD in 2021. Gottlieb died in 2022. Metrose left the company in 2023.