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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Supervisor Seeks Review of Sheriff's Hiring Practices

May 31, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Reacting to the announcement that 11 Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department employees were relieved of duty last week amid two credit card scams, Supervisor Mike Antonovich on Tuesday asked for a review of the department's hiring practices.

In his motion, Antonovich said that heightened background and financial investigations prior to hiring could have helped avert the situation.

The 11, four deputies and seven civilian jail workers, were relieved of duty following a seven-month sting operation. Investigators simultaneously discovered a more extensive credit card fraud scam they say involves one of the deputies, David Osorio. And, during the course of the investigation, it was allegedly discovered that another of the deputies, Jessie Zuniga, dealt black tar heroin inside Twin Towers jail.

Osorio and Zuniga had prior law enforcement experience before joining the Sheriff's Department.

Antonovich said he believes the department needs to work with the county's administrative office and the human resources department to strengthen the sheriff's hiring practices. He asked for a report in 30 days.

Sheriff's officials have said they believe their hiring practices could not be faulted. But sources said Zuniga, at least, had a troubled personnel history.

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