Accusations that off-duty police officers knew about alleged illegal payments at the city's largest bingo parlor were referred Friday to the Los Angeles Police Department's internal affairs division, which investigates police wrongdoing.
Cmdr. William Booth, a Police Department spokesman, said the referral to internal affairs was made because the officers involved were from numerous bureaus and divisions, making it impossible for any one division to handle the investigation.
"That makes it a natural for internal affairs," Booth said.
Booth said he could not lawfully identify the officers who might be questioned during the investigation.
The police inquiry was prompted by statements made by witnesses at a Thursday hearing held to consider revoking the bingo license of Identity Inc., a Woodland Hills-based charity for the disabled, which has been accused of paying volunteer workers--a violation of state law.
Identity has grossed $28.7 million from its bingo operation since 1982, when it first began using the games to raise funds.
Two of the city's witnesses in the license-revocation case--Cindy Houseman and Sylvia Dean, both of the San Fernando Valley--told The Times on Thursday that police officers working as security guards were often present when Identity's other workers talked about being paid.
The pair testified under oath Thursday that they were paid by Identity.
Dean said she received $900 a week in cash from the bingo proceeds.
Houseman and a third woman, Deborah Basham, also told The Times that the wives of two police officers were--like themselves--paid "volunteers" for Identity. Dean, who was also on Identity's board of directors, said the wives of other officers providing security at Identity gained free admittance to the games held in the charity's bingo parlor.
Meanwhile, Detective Bobbi Squire of a police vice division said her unit conducted a criminal probe in 1985 and 1986 into allegations that Identity volunteers were getting paid, but that investigation resulted in no criminal charges being filed.