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D.A. to Ask Police Dept. to Probe Hermosa Mayor

February 23, 1986|DEAN MURPHY | Times Staff Writer

HERMOSA BEACH — In a letter expected to be mailed next week, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office will ask the Hermosa Beach Police Department to investigate allegations that Mayor Jack Wood provided false information on a city health insurance form last year in order to qualify his girlfriend for coverage.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Herbert Lapin said last week that the letter to Police Chief Frank Beeson has been drafted and will be mailed after it is approved by Deputy Dist. Atty. Steven A. Sowders, who heads special investigations for the district attorney's office.

Lapin, who has been assigned the Hermosa Beach case, said he has not looked into the allegations against Wood, which were submitted in writing in December by civic activist Roger Creighton. Lapin said his office decided to forward the case to the Police Department because it involves alleged crimes within Hermosa Beach.

"We are just saying, 'Hey, it is in your jurisdiction and you should have primary responsibility for the investigation of it,' " Lapin said. "There is an investigation to be done, and we are trying to go through the proper channels."

Lapin said the district attorney's office will take over the investigation if the Police Department declares a conflict of interest or if Beeson asks him to keep the case.

In his complaint to the district attorney's office, Creighton charges that Wood falsified public records in November, 1984, when he signed up his girlfriend for the city's health insurance program. On the insurance form, Wood identified Helena Toulmet, now his fiancee, as his wife, listed her with a hyphenated version of his last name and included a fictitious wedding date. The health insurance benefits are available only to legally married spouses.

Creighton, a persistent critic of Hermosa Beach government, sued the city to obtain copies of the insurance form and other city documents last May after the city refused to release them on grounds it would be an invasion of privacy.

In several interviews, Wood has admitted filling out the forms with false information, but denied that he committed a crime, and said he removed Toulmet from the program as soon as he learned she was ineligible for coverage.

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