EDITORIAL WHO'S IN CHARGE? CORRUPTION IN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT?
According to county Auditor-Controller Tyler McCauley, the corporation that runs the inmate stores in county jails, Compass Group USA Inc., ripped off inmates and the public to the tune of $640,213.
The money, a portion of Compass' jail profits, was supposed to go to inmate services, but never did.
How could the Sheriff's Department, which is charged not only with overseeing the jails but also ensuring law and order in L.A. County, have failed to stop this abuse? How could no one have noticed during the six years this kind of improper spending went on?
Unfortunately, there's no good answer -- although there are plenty of bad ones, such as:
The $169,465 Compass spent on "client hospitality" -- wining and dining Sheriff's Department employees.
The $304,291 Compass gave to the sheriff's Youth Foundation.
The $147,211 Compass paid for Sheriff's Department retirement parties and the Baker-to-Vegas relay, the annual long-distance run involving Sheriff Lee Baca and other law- enforcement officials.
Could it be that Compass was able to shortchange inmate services because it was lavishing its generosity on Sheriff's Department officials instead?
And isn't it illegal for county employees to get all these goodies from a contractor?
Well, yes, it is, but here's the hitch: The records don't show us which department employees benefited from Compass' good will, so it's impossible to tell who, if anyone, broke the law.
That answer isn't good enough. Law enforcement has a lot of tools to get at the truth in matters such as these, starting with the county grand jury.
Since Baca is the man in charge, responsible for what goes on in his department, it's up to the district attorney to live up to his promise to get tough on public corruption.
Taxpayers have a right to know the whole truth.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||May 2, 2007|
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