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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Countywide

Review of Sheriff's Hiring Practice Asked

May 31, 2000|BETH SHUSTER

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 asked for a review Tuesday of the department's hiring practices.

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

The employees, who include 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 that they say involves one of the deputies, David Osorio. And, during the investigation, it was reportedly discovered that another deputy, Jessie Zuniga, allegedly dealt black tar heroin inside the Twin Towers jail.

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

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

Sheriff's officials have said they believe that their hiring practices could not be faulted. But sources said that Zuniga, at least, came to the department with a troubled personnel history.

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