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3 Parole Agents Placed on Leave

The state officers were stopped in Hollywood as part of Snoop Dogg's armed entourage.

June 26, 2003|Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton | Times Staff Writers

Three state parole agents were placed on leave Wednesday, a day after being stopped as part of rapper Snoop Dogg's armed entourage at the Black Entertainment Television Awards ceremony in Hollywood, authorities said.

And officials stepped up what they described as a comprehensive investigation into off-duty employment of all state workers in the Los Angeles area, said Russ Heimerich, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections. The parole officers apparently were working for the rapper, who was convicted of cocaine possession in 1990, he said.

"There are a number of things we will be looking at," including the parole agents' "specific participation or acts [Tuesday] night," Heimerich said.

The Inglewood Unified School District placed one of its reserve officers, who was also part of the rapper's security detail, on leave Wednesday pending the outcome of an investigation into whether laws or district policies were violated. That officer, Marcus Thompson, 35, surrendered to police Wednesday and was booked on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon and an unregistered handgun, LAPD spokesman Jason Lee said. His bail was set at $20,000.

Officials declined to identify the other suspended officers.

Snoop Dogg, whose given name is Calvin Broadus, was not detained. He had traveled to Tuesday night's event at the Kodak Theatre in a three-vehicle caravan that included a customized armored van with multiple gun ports.

Los Angeles police and federal agents said they confiscated a cache of weapons, including knives, batons, pepper spray, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and seven handguns, one with a laser-sighting device.

Three in the group were arrested by the LAPD. They were among 13 people detained for questioning.

Before the group was stopped, Broadus had been dropped off at the theater, where he performed in the awards ceremony.

The caravan consisted of a Lincoln Navigator, a Hummer H2 and a customized armored van, said LAPD Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell. The vehicles were stopped outside the Renaissance Hotel on Highland Avenue.

The LAPD issued a departmentwide warning a week before the event, reminding officers that off-duty work involving convicted felons could constitute misconduct and result in discipline.

The Corrections Department has no specific policy prohibiting outside employment connected to people with criminal backgrounds, Heimerich said. But parole agents are required to tell their superiors whom they work for in off hours and to provide other "vital information," such as knowledge of criminal conduct by the employer.

Heimerich said one of the agents involved in Tuesday's incident ran a security firm in his off time that had "a number of clients, including Broadus."

Herman Jones, acting chief of the Inglewood Unified School District police, said Wednesday that in addition to the reserve officer, a former Inglewood schools police officer was among those detained for questioning.

Inglewood school police policy forbids officers to associate with "spurious individuals," Jones said. He added that the policy should be more restrictive. "The rules need tightening, and it's certainly something I'll be looking at now," he said.

Reserve school police officers in Inglewood were forbidden to carry concealed weapons off duty after an incident in April during which Broadus' motorcade came under fire and a 43-year-old Inglewood school reserve officer, who was working for the rapper, was injured.

At least three high-profile rappers have met violent ends since the music form, often laced with violent lyrics, became a dominant one in the last decade.

An off-duty Inglewood officer was working security for Notorious B.I.G. in 1996 when the rapper was shot to death in front of partygoers outside the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Law enforcement sources said at the time that the officer was one of six Inglewood officers who violated department policy by working off duty the night of the shooting as security for the 24-year-old rapper, whose real name was Christopher Wallace.

That slaying was believed to be payback for the killing of Tupac Shakur earlier that year, and led many to believe that the cycle of violence was the result of a bitter East Coast-West Coast rivalry among rappers.

More recently, 50 Cent, whose birth name is Curtis Jackson, was wounded by gunfire in Queens, N.Y. And in October, Jason Mizell -- Jam Master Jay -- was gunned down in New York City.

Law enforcement sources said security for the BET Awards was planned over the last six weeks. More than 100 law enforcement officers worked in and around the theater Tuesday night. And law enforcement officials from the New York City area were brought in to help identify East Coast rap associates.

Snoop Dogg's guard detail, with weapons and body armor, was spotted when it pulled up to let the rapper off at the theater, authorities said. Lt. Art Miller, an LAPD spokesman, said the decision to stop the caravan was made at that time. "The officers were being proactive," he said. "This was not just a vehicle for protection. Those inside had an ability to shoot out."

The arrestees included Dan Dre Leon, 25, and Marlon Magee, 22, who were detained for outstanding misdemeanor warrants and later released, the lieutenant said. Timothy Miller, 27, was arrested for a parole violation related to the firearms.

Latese Baker, a special agent in the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said federal law prohibits the use of firearms by guards protecting a felon.

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