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Ex-Deputy Chief Focus of Money-Laundering Probe

LAPD: Maurice Moore, a former top Parks aide, may have used real estate deals to hide son's drug profits, authorities say. He denies wrongdoing.

March 31, 2002|MATT LAIT and SCOTT GLOVERx | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A 40-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department who until recently was one of its highest-ranking officials is under investigation for real estate transactions that authorities believe may have laundered money from a multimillion-dollar cocaine ring headed by his son.

Deputy Chief Maurice Moore, 66, retired in January as investigators from the LAPD and FBI probed his financial ties to his son, Kevin Moore, a convicted cocaine trafficker.

Maurice Moore, through his attorney, denied any wrongdoing. He declined to comment further on the advice of his lawyer, who also declined to discuss the matter in detail.

LAPD officials have been looking into allegations against Moore for well over a year, and at least some members of the Police Commission have been briefed about it.

Moore, a longtime friend and special assistant to Police Chief Bernard C. Parks, was allowed to continue in his job while the investigation was underway. Under Parks, LAPD officers accused of crimes or serious misconduct often have been ordered to remain at home during working hours until the cases against them have been resolved.

Parks declined to discuss specifics of the Moore case on Friday, but said the LAPD was continuing to probe the allegations against him. "At the conclusion," Parks said, "we will determine if there's anything he is culpable of."

In the meantime, Moore, long regarded as a friendly, approachable LAPD supervisor, has retired from the LAPD, officially winding up his service on Jan. 26. A message in Parks' monthly newsletter said Moore's long career was "distinguished by his remarkable commitment to continuous public service," adding that the deputy chief had gone for more than 30 years without taking a single day off due to illness.

According to public documents and interviews with witnesses who have been questioned by investigators, authorities are scrutinizing at least two real estate transactions involving Maurice Moore to determine whether he sought to hide assets generated by his son's Detroit-based cocaine dealing.

At the time both real estate transactions occurred, in 1992, Kevin Moore was serving time in federal prison. He had been sentenced after pleading guilty to smuggling 1,000 pounds of cocaine into the country in 1989. His drug dealing continued for nearly a decade from inside the walls of federal prisons in Texas and California, according to court records and law enforcement sources.

In one of the real estate transactions involving Maurice Moore, the elder Moore purchased an apartment building on 6th Avenue in Los Angeles in 1992, county records show. Seven years later, as his son was about to plead guilty to money laundering in connection with drug dealing orchestrated from inside prison, Kevin Moore claimed in court papers that the 6th Avenue apartment building belonged to him, even though real estate records still showed it in Maurice Moore's name.

Kevin Moore at that time turned over $1 million in drug profits to the government; in return, prosecutors agreed not to seize the apartment building.

Authorities Scrutinize Real Estate Deals

That set of facts has caught the attention of authorities, who are questioning whether Maurice Moore was the real owner in 1992 or whether he put the property in his name to keep it from being identified as his son's. The property later was valued at $260,000.

Kenneth House, who owned the building and sold it to Maurice Moore in 1992, said in an interview with The Times that he was recently questioned by LAPD Internal Affairs detectives about the transaction and whether he had any ties to Maurice or Kevin Moore or any members of the Moore family. House said he told the detectives that he did not, though he did recall someone mentioning at the time that the buyer was a policeman.

The other deal under scrutiny involves a four-bedroom house with a swimming pool on Troon Avenue in Cheviot Hills that was transferred into Maurice Moore's name on July 7, 1992.

The person deeding him the property, according to county records, was Cheryl Frazier. Frazier's sister, Anna Moore, was married to Kevin Moore and was a participant in his narcotics and money-laundering organization. Anna Moore's name also appears on the document deeding the property to Maurice Moore, as the person to whom the recorded deed and tax statements were to be sent.

Although the records do not indicate how much Maurice Moore paid for that property, other documents suggest that it was worth roughly $725,000.

Anna Moore and Frazier said they were visited by LAPD detectives in recent weeks, and that the detectives were asking questions about Maurice Moore.

In a brief interview with The Times, Anna Moore said she refused to cooperate with the police, telling them she had nothing to say. She also declined to answer a reporter's question about why the Troon Avenue property was transferred into Maurice Moore's name.

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