Stung by the use of their office telephones to call pornographic tape recordings, county supervisors Wednesday ordered an investigation into who did it and how to stop it.
Supervisor Bruce Nestande, whose phones most often were used to make the calls, reacted to titters in the audience when he brought the matter up: "It's funny, but it's sad, a sign of the times, when you have this number of pornographic calls made on county telephones, which are public telephones."
County telephone records showed 182 calls made from phones in Nestande's office to the "dial-a-porn" services in the six months ending June 16. Nestande, using a different counting method, put the number from last October through June at 101, including 16 made during the lunch hour, 20 during work hours and 65 at night or on weekends.
Disclosed by The Times
The calls were disclosed Wednesday by The Times, which had reviewed telephone records.
Supervisor Roger R. Stanton said three calls were made from a telephone in his office on a Saturday in February at 11:01 p.m., 11:04 p.m. and 11:07 p.m.
Nestande, who is also the Republican candidate for California secretary of state in the November election, and Stanton said they had not made the calls to the telephone numbers.
Dan Wooldridge, an aide to Supervisors Chairman Ralph B. Clark, said that calls to pornographic recordings were made from Clark's office too, but that neither the supervisor nor his aides made them.
Each call costs $2, plus the normal telephone toll charge. The calls from the offices of the three supervisors cost county taxpayers a total of $221.50 during the first six months of the year.
Nestande suggested that the heads of county departments and agencies check their records "and see if it's gone on anywhere else." He asked the county administrative officer to see whether phone systems could be modified so they couldn't call the numbers.
Contact Law Agencies
The supervisors also authorized County Administrative Officer Larry Parrish to contact law enforcement agencies in an effort to find out who made the calls.
Parrish said he had spoken with representatives of the Sheriff's Department and two other county agencies about the telephone calls and promised to "vigorously" look into the matter.
Parrish said the investigation would be conducted "in line with the other security issues that have been raised" in recent months, including thefts of cash from supervisors' offices.
Nestande said Wednesday that $8,000 in state and county checks he had not yet deposited have been stolen from a desk in his office. He said he reported the thefts, was reimbursed and did not know whether anyone tried to cash the checks.
Hundreds of dollars in cash were also taken from the offices of two of Nestande's aides. Stanton said his office was rifled earlier this year, and other offices were also victims of petty thefts.
Locks on the top-floor offices of the supervisors have been changed, and other unspecified measures have been taken to improve security. In reaction to threats from disgruntled callers and to incidents of international terrorism, including the bomb murder of Arab rights activist Alex M. Odeh last year, a plainclothes officer now sits in the audience at supervisors' meetings.
Breaches of Security
Supervisors said telephone security can be breached by using phone lines accessible from a master console in the public lobby on the fifth floor shared by all the supervisors.
Many of the calls from Nestande's office were made on his private line, which is not on the lobby console but which can be dialed from three telephones outside his private office.
Nestande also said he received telephone calls from people who said calls had been made to pornographic tape recordings from their phones without their knowledge.
One woman who contacted him was Abby Cooperman, manager of the Los Angeles reservation office for the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas.
Cooperman said that beginning in April her office phone was billed for middle-of-the-night calls she did not make to a pornographic tape and to seer Jeanne Dixon. She said the telephone company told her that it had investigated and determined crossed lines led to her being billed for calls made by someone else.