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Twin Police Officers Charged With Illegal Computer Use

Crime: Teresa Golt and her sister Lisa, who was fired in 1999, also are accused of violating law on bail bonds.

November 29, 2000|JEFFREY L. RABIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Twin sisters Lisa and Teresa Golt--a former and a present LAPD officer who have been outspoken critics of the department and subjects of internal discipline--are in even deeper trouble.

The 33-year-old sisters face felony charges that they issued bail without a license and illegally accessed confidential information from law enforcement computers.

They were arrested last month on suspicion of acting without a bail-bond license and accessing the computers and making use of the data. Both pleaded not guilty to the felony charges at their arraignment and are free on their own recognizance.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge Tuesday said he would not set a preliminary hearing date for the sisters until mid-January because their defense attorneys are involved in other trials and will not be available.

Lisa Golt won widespread attention in January 1999 when she spearheaded a campaign to encourage other LAPD officers to sign written instructions to bar Police Chief Bernard C. Parks from attending their funeral if they were killed in the line of duty.

"I don't want somebody I don't respect at my funeral," Lisa Golt said at the time. Parks "has no feelings whatsoever for the officers. He only goes for political reasons."

Teresa Golt also was sharply critical of what she and some other officers viewed as Parks' heavy-handed approach to discipline. She was later disciplined for her role in the anti-Parks campaign.

"Police facilities are not open forums for expressing our unhappiness or lack of support for our upper levels of management," Lt. Gloria Vargas wrote in a report called an employee comment sheet, one of the mildest forms of LAPD discipline. "In the future, if you wish to express your disapproval of the Los Angeles Police Department, do it on your own time and not on or in department facilities."

LAPD spokesman Lt. Horace Frank said Tuesday that the Golt sisters' effort to enlist other officers in the anti-Parks campaign was "unfortunate and sad" and did not reflect "the feeling of 99.9% of the police officers of this department."

Frank confirmed that Teresa Golt has been reassigned to an administrative position while awaiting a disciplinary hearing on 10 internal charges filed with the Police Commission in July. Those allegations include working off duty as a bail bondsman, inappropriately acting as a bail agent without a proper license, making false and misleading statements to department supervisors and using department computer systems for personal use.

Lisa Golt was fired by the department in October 1999 after being found guilty of three charges in an internal LAPD disciplinary proceeding, Frank said. Those allegations included being involved in the bail bond business while off duty, spraying someone with pepper spray while off duty, and failing to notify the department of use of force. She is appealing the dismissal, said attorney John Barnett.

The Golt sisters also have been disciplined for other offenses, according to LAPD records.

The criminal complaint filed against them last month alleges that they engaged in the crime of "undertaking bail without a license" in July 1999 and January 2000.

In addition, they were charged with four counts of accessing, taking, copying and making use of information from LAPD and California Department of Justice computer systems on four occasions between January and May of 1999.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Elizabeth Munisoglu said the charges were filed as felonies rather than misdemeanors because the sisters "used their position as police officers for private gain" by engaging in the bail bond business and accessing law enforcement computers. "Given the totality, it seemed to us a felony filing was more appropriate," she said.

Orange County defense attorney Salavatore Ciulla, who represents Lisa Golt, said both sisters entered not guilty pleas. "They have denied all of these allegations," he said.

Ciulla said he intends to explore whether there has been retaliation and discriminatory prosecution against the two. "I feel that is part and parcel of their prosecution. I don't know yet what the documentation will show," he said. "I'm interested in how the district attorney files and prosecutes these cases."

Barnett questioned the severity of the actions taken by the LAPD against the two sisters. "The problem with this case is it simply doesn't pass the smell test," he said. "Two outspoken female LAPD officers are quoted and are very active in the internal politics of the department and they get singled out. Why? We're going to seek to find out."

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