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15 Officers Disciplined in Inglewood

May 25, 1994|GORDON DILLOW | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An investigation that began with an anonymous letter signed "Suzi Q." has resulted in one Inglewood police officer being fired and 14 being suspended for their alleged roles in an illegal bookmaking operation involving an outside bookie and thousands of dollars in sports betting, officials said Tuesday.

The district attorney's office will decide whether to file any criminal charges in connection with the alleged gambling ring.

"It's over as far as our investigation is concerned," said Inglewood Police Chief Oliver M. Thompson, head of the 209-officer department. "It (the investigation) definitely has had a negative impact. Now it's time for the healing process to begin."

Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles district attorney's office, declined to comment.

Thompson did not disclose the names of the 14 officers and one sergeant disciplined, saying that none has been charged with a crime. The officers will be suspended without pay for one to 30 days, and the suspensions will be staggered to reduce their effect on officer deployment, Thompson said. Some of the officers could be transferred within the department, he said.

The disciplinary actions can be appealed, Thompson said.

The investigation began in December when Thompson received an anonymous typed letter, signed "Suzi Q.," alleging that a betting ring was being run by officers and including several names. Two officers were cleared of any wrongdoing, Thompson said.

Six weeks after the anonymous letter was received, eight Inglewood police officers were placed on paid administrative leave as a result of the internal investigation. Search warrants were obtained for locations in Inglewood and Simi Valley, including some officers' homes.

Officials and officers were tight-lipped about details of the inquiry, pending a decision by the district attorney's office on whether anyone will be prosecuted.

Thompson said the gambling occurred on duty and involved sports betting connected to a professional bookie outside the department. He declined to identify the alleged bookie.

Thompson said he believes that thousands of dollars in bets were placed over a three-year period. City-owned cars and telephones were reportedly used by some officers in connection with the betting.

The officers who were involved are apologetic about the incident, Thompson said. "They wish it had never happened."

The duration of the suspensions was based on the extent of their involvement, personal history and work performance, Thompson said.

Assistant City Manager Norman Cravens said that the fired or suspended officers represent a small percentage of the department's work force.

"It's less than 10%," Cravens said. "It's an alarming number, but not a shocking number. We have an outstanding Police Department. They do a lot of good work, and now we just want them to get back to it."

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