Just a few months ago, Armando Hogan, the popular second-in-command at the Los Angeles Fire Department, was set to take over the top job when the current chief retired.
But the veteran 61-year-old firefighter quietly exited his lucrative job a few weeks ago, foregoing $250,000 of a pension payout as the city investigates a sexual harassment allegation by a former colleague.
Hogan, a former Assistant Chief from Gardena, had served as second in command to LAFD Fire Chief Kristin Crowley since April. He was placed on paid administrative leave in October, and soon after the city launched an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him by a female coworker at the LAFD.
His accuser, a high-level married member of the professional support staff at the LAFD, told her colleagues that Hogan had made inappropriate propositions of a sexual nature toward her on several occasions. The city has not revealed the basis of the allegations, but sources say investigators are trying to determine if Hogan made lewd comments about the woman’s body or touched her in a way that was unwanted. On January 17, as the investigation continued, Hogan discreetly retired from the department, forfeiting a potential $250,000 deferred pension payout he’d have accrued if he remained in his job another eight to 12 months.
Hogan was the chief officer in charge of all administrative operations for the fire department in the nation’s second-largest city. He was also perhaps the most prominent surrogate and fundraiser for Mayor Karen Bass in the LAFD during her campaign. It was widely believed among L.A. firefighters that Hogan hoped to parlay his relationship with Bass into a nomination to the fire chief job.
Political observer Daniel Guss broke the news in October on his Substack blog that the beleaguered chief deputy had been relieved of duty with pay while the investigation into his alleged actions continued. Attempts by LAMag to reach Hogan for comment, by phone and email, were unsuccessful.
The LAFD first became aware of the complaint on October 12, according to a spokesman for the department. In accordance with city policy, the LAFD referred the allegation of misconduct against one of its top-ranking city administrators to the Office of the City Attorney.
In November, City Attorney Mike Feuer appointed a powerhouse Brentwood-based attorney and workplace investigator named Roberta Yang to launch an independent probe into the merits of the woman’s allegations. Yang was the deputy mayor for public safety and homeland security under former Mayor James K. Hahn from 2001 until 2005.
News of the allegations first came to light in October at a meeting of the Fire Commission when Shandi Thompson, the wife of LAFD captain Richard Thompson, called in to sound off on a litany of issues that she said plagued the LAFD, from work-load, lingering resistance to the Covid-19 vaccines, and what she referred to as “Hogan’s sexual allegations.”
“How do you expect any of the firefighters to be held at a certain standard if the higher-ranking officers don’t even abide by these standards?” Thompson asked.
By most accounts, Hogan was a big, gregarious, and ambitious personality in the LAFD— well-liked in the field but less adept as an administrator.
He’s a father of two adult children and a recent widower—Marcia Hogan, his wife of 28 years died shortly before her husband was named Firefighter of the Year by the L.A. City Firefighters Association on April 21, according to The Firemen’s Grapevine, a digital newsletter of the L.A. Firemen’s Relief Association.
While many of his colleagues viewed him as an obvious successor to the top job at LAFD, others were not so sure. “I always thought Hogan was a candidate for chief in his own mind,” an LAFD insider tells LAMag. “The African American firefighters created this idea that perhaps he might be chosen by Bass to succeed Crowley, but I don’t see how Mayor Bass would do that to Crowley. I can’t see that happening.”
Chief Crowley, 51, the first woman and openly gay person to lead the LAFD, took office less than a year ago and is believed to enjoy the support of the firefighters union.
“Absolutely not!” replied Acting Deputy Mayor of Communications Zach Seidl when asked if the mayor had chosen Hogan to replace Crowley as fire chief. The mayoral spokesman declined to comment on the unexpected retirement of Bass’s one-time ally, but said, “Mayor Bass has no tolerance for misconduct at the Los Angeles Fire Department or anywhere else.”
This morning, the #LAFD provided a Birds Eye view of the damage caused by the recent storms. Thank you for taking the time @MayorOfLA and for supporting our first responders. #fireservice #publicsafety #FirstResponders #LosAngeles pic.twitter.com/sM8W1Iu1ww
— Chief Crowley (@LAFDChief) January 25, 2023
However, back when the mayoral race was tightening and the city’s powerful firefighter union, United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, was “all-in” for Bass’s rival, Rick Caruso, Hogan threw the future mayor his support; his name prominently appeared on fliers from the Bass campaign. According to donor records, Hogan also gave $1500 to Bass’s campaign—the most a single person could legally contribute to a candidate for mayor in the 2022 cycle.
His sudden resignation after a months-long leave of absence may indicate that investigators are closing in on evidence of his alleged sexual harassment. Were this a different case of misconduct, the investigation could have ended when Hogan retired. But since the case involves an alleged violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, federal law that holds institutions accountable for workplace discrimination, Yang’s investigation will carry on until it concludes.
In 2021, when Hogan’s job title was assistant chief, his total compensation was $505,906, according to the website CalSalaries, citing Los Angeles payroll data. But walking away amid the scandal is delivering a bigger blow to Hogan’s finances than the loss of some big paychecks.
As an opportunity to grow their pension ahead of retirement, the LAFD gives firefighters the option to stay on an extra five years; this amount is then paid in a lump sum when they retire. If this extension is taken, the department knows their retirement date years in advance. Sources say Hogan’s five-year DROP period, as it’s called, was due to end in September.
Losing nine months will cost him dearly—the former chief deputy’s salary, according to the City Controller’s office, was $304,785 a year. By stepping aside on January 17, Hogan is likely losing as much as $250,000 in lump-sum retirement payout.
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. news, food, and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.