[Hpn] 4 Sheriff's Deputies, 7 Workers Accused of Credit Card Scams

Bill Tinker wtinker@fcgnetworks.net
Thu, 25 May 2000 19:39:15 -0400


This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

--Boundary_(ID_aJPD5ut0Q/9XuVhpjbtDag)
Content-type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-transfer-encoding: 7bit

4 Sheriff's Deputies, 7 Workers Accused of Credit Card ScamsHey Gang ,
Makes you want to report the lose of your credit cards right to these
deputies!!
Our police forces need watch dogs for justice because they are the breeding
grounds for crime!
A Brother
Bill







     Home | Archives | Print Edition | Home Delivery | Advertise | Site Map
| Feedback | Help


              News
                  Politics
                  Entertainment
                  music, movies, art,
                  TV, restaurants  Business
                  Travel
                  Classifieds
                  jobs, homes, cars, rentals  Sports
                  Commentary
                  Shopping



              Front Page
               TOP STORIES
                  . Months-Long Debate Ends With 237-197 Vote
                  . Judge Weighs Plan to Split Microsoft Into 3
                  . Syria May Be Wrench in Post-Pullout Plans
                  MORE

              DAILY SECTIONS
                  Front Page
                  A Section
                  Metro  Business
                  Sports
                  Calendar  So. Cal. Living
                  Editorials,
                     Letters, Op/Ed

                  WEEKLY SECTIONS
                  Health
                  Food
                  Highway 1

                  SUNDAY SECTIONS
                  Books
                  Opinion
                  Real Estate
                  Calendar
                  Magazine
                  Travel
                  TV Times





            Classifieds  Find a home, car, rental, job, pet, merchandise,
auction, boat, plane or RV  Place an Ad



            Print Edition Advertisements   See this week's ads



              Books
                  Food
                  Health
                  Highway 1
                  Real Estate
                  So.Cal. Living
                  Sunday Opinion
                   Columnists
                  Education
                  Obituaries
                  Science
                  Special Reports
                  Times Poll
                  Reading by 9
                   Crossword
                  Horoscope
                  Lottery
                  Traffic
                  Weather
                  Discussions
                  SITE MAP

              BUY MOVIES AT REEL.COM

                Movie Title







      Thursday, May 25, 2000 |  Print this story


      4 Sheriff's Deputies, 7 Workers Accused of Credit Card Scams
       Probe: They are relieved of duty after seven-month sting. All but one
are likely to face felony charges, officials say.


      By BETH SHUSTER, Times Staff Writer





           Eleven Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department employees,
including four deputies, were relieved of duty Wednesday pending the outcome
of an internal criminal investigation into two credit card scams, one of
which involved millions of dollars.
           Sheriff's investigators, who began an undercover sting operation
seven months ago, say the deputies and custody assistants--civilians who
work in the jails--used credit cards the suspects believed were stolen to
obtain cash from automated teller machines.
           Simultaneously, investigators discovered that the alleged
ringleader of the scheme also was involved in a far larger and wider credit
card fraud scam operating outside the department. Sheriff's Department
officials say they expect to make arrests in connection with that larger
ring in the days ahead.
           About 150 deputies fanned out across three counties early
Wednesday morning, serving search warrants at 17 locations. Most were the
homes of employees, but some were the residences of associates believed
linked to the scheme. All of the employees were surprised by the undercover
operation, department officials said.
           Dubbed "Operation Easy Money" by sheriff's officials, the
investigation involves the largest number of employees since the
department's narcotics unit scandal in the late 1980s, when more than two
dozen deputies were accused of stealing and laundering cash, among other
crimes.
           Sheriff Lee Baca, who plans to hold a news conference today on
the case, said he considers the allegations against the employees extremely
serious and noted that the worst corruption scandals typically begin with
seemingly minor incidents.
           "The whole idea that people would hire on to the department amid
the pretext that they wanted to uphold the law and then violate it is just
totally disgusting," Baca said in an interview. "This suggests to me that I
need to continue to weed out employees who think they can engage in apparent
illegal acts."
           The case will be turned over to the district attorney's office,
which probably will convene the grand jury to consider indictments against
the sheriff's employees, sources said. The deputies and all but one of the
custody assistants are likely to face multiple felony charges, according to
the Sheriff's Department.
           The deputies who were relieved of duty--and who Baca says will be
fired--are David Osorio, Richard English, Jessie Zuniga and Monica Planty.
The custody assistants are Christopher Coleman, Josephine Phillips, Michael
Habib, Tirrell Thomas, Meko Goodley, Timothy Miller and Hilary Ayers. All of
the employees except Osorio are assigned to the Twin Towers Jail; Osorio
worked at the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic.
           Antuan Turner, an ex-convict who is not a Sheriff's Department
employee but is believed to be an associate of Osorio in the larger ring,
was arrested Wednesday and held in lieu of $1 million bail on suspicion of
possessing a weapon.
           Investigators sorted through a large volume of evidence recovered
Wednesday that they believe will further implicate the employees.
           The investigation began when the department was contacted by an
informant. From that point on, sheriff's investigators uncovered lead after
lead, which they allege suggested that Osorio was not only the ringleader of
the scam involving departmental employees, but also appeared to have been
involved in a wider, more complicated credit card scheme before joining the
department four years ago. Officials allege that Osorio was involved with
another partner who ran the larger ring, said Sgt. Michael Pippin and Lt.
Mark Milburn, the lead investigators in the case.
           The department is continuing its investigation into the wider
credit card fraud ring to which Osorio allegedly belonged when he joined the
department and is seeking Osorio's alleged partner, among others.
           "This investigation goes in a thousand different directions,"
Pippin said. "We have the tip of the iceberg."
           Osorio allegedly amassed between $500,000 and $1 million--using
hundreds of stolen credit cards--while operating as part of the larger ring
before the Sheriff's Department's internal sting operation, investigators
believe. Osorio and his suspected partner apparently received the stolen
credit cards from several Postal Service employees with access to security
bags, investigators said. Sheriff's officials have alerted the Postal
Service to their investigation.
           Others in the wider ring outside the department apparently gained
access to personal identification and Social Security numbers, as well as
other information, such as mothers' maiden names, by posing as credit card
company employees or by pretending to be the person named on a stolen card.
They also would seek increases in the stolen cards' credit limits, mostly to
withdraw cash, investigators said.
           For the past couple of years, Osorio lived mostly at an
inexpensive hotel and failed to pay the registration on his car, the
investigators said. Still unclear is how Osorio spent the money he allegedly
stole, the investigators said.
           Baca, who received numerous briefings on the unfolding crisis,
said he ordered the department's Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau to
aggressively pursue the employees, particularly Osorio. "The cop side of who
I am said he had to be pursued until we had all the information we needed,"
Baca said.

           Background Checks Come Under Fire
           With the sheriff's permission, the investigators set up dummy
credit card accounts. Using surveillance equipment, the department made
videotapes of the employees receiving what they allegedly believed were
stolen credit cards. Baca personally approved using more than $35,000 to
carry out the sting operation.
           Investigators say they monitored the recruitment of employee
after employee into the scheme, then watched them receive the cards and
later withdraw cash. Phillips was the only employee who apparently did not
participate in the card-for-cash scam, but she assisted ring members by
running a license plate check on sheriff's computers, a misdemeanor, the
investigators said.
           Coleman, the custody assistant, became the link in Twin Towers
between Osorio and the other employees, the investigators allege. He
apparently arranged for the deliveries of the credit cards and the personal
identification numbers needed to obtain cash from bank machines, among other
things. The employees would then give Coleman a percentage of the money they
received from the cards, investigators say. Coleman, the investigators
allege, also would turn over a cut to Osorio.
           Since most of the bank cards had a $300-a-day cash limit, the
investigators say the employees went several times to withdraw cash with
their cards, sometimes in disguise. The cards provided as part of the
investigators' sting were flagged by the bank so that whenever one was used,
the department was notified. The Sheriff's Department has numerous
videotapes, some taken by the machines' security cameras, allegedly showing
the employees withdrawing money.
           "This whole thing is a den of thieves," Pippin said.
           The internal investigation renews questions about the background
checks conducted not only on the sheriff's deputies, but also on the custody
assistants. Baca announced earlier this year that he wants to substantially
increase the number of civilians working in the jails, a proposal that
concerns even some of those in his own department, given this crisis.
           Planty, for example, was just several months out of the sheriff's
training academy when she allegedly took part in the credit card scam.
           The investigation comes against the backdrop of the Los Angeles
Police Department's Rampart corruption scandal, in which more than 30 LAPD
officers have been relieved of duty, suspended or fired or have quit. More
than 70 are under investigation for a variety of offenses, including
covering up unjustified shootings, intimidating witnesses, planting evidence
and perjury. In addition, prosecutors have overturned more than 75 felony
convictions because of the involvement of allegedly corrupt officers.
           Baca said it is "rather bizarre" that the deputies became
involved in wrongdoing that mostly netted paltry sums.

       Search the archives of the Los Angeles Times for similar stories
about:  Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Law Enforcement Officers -
Los Angeles, Police Corruption - Los Angeles County, Police Misconduct,
Credit Card Fraud, Investigations, Sting Operations.
      You will not be charged to look for stories, only to retrieve one.

              News
                  Politics
                  Entertainment
                  music, movies, art,
                  TV, restaurants  Business
                  Travel
                  Classifieds
                  jobs, homes, cars, rentals  Sports
                  Commentary
                  Shopping

        Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times
            Click for permission to reprint. (PRC# 1.528.000049490)










--Boundary_(ID_aJPD5ut0Q/9XuVhpjbtDag)
Content-type: image/gif; name="empty.gif"
Content-transfer-encoding: base64
Content-Location: http://www.latimes.com/images/empty.gif

R0lGODlhAQABAID/AMDAwAAAACH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw==

--Boundary_(ID_aJPD5ut0Q/9XuVhpjbtDag)
Content-type: image/gif; name="lat_logosmall.gif"
Content-transfer-encoding: base64
Content-Location: http://www.latimes.com/images/lat_logosmall.gif
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--Boundary_(ID_aJPD5ut0Q/9XuVhpjbtDag)--