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Reserve Deputy Resigns During Probe

Member of O.C. sheriff's force, a Newport Beach restaurant owner, is investigated after he allegedly flashed his badge during a dispute.

November 11, 2005|Christine Hanley | Times Staff Writer

The owner of an upscale Newport Beach restaurant recently resigned as a reserve sheriff's deputy after a laundromat owner complained that the restaurateur illegally parked on his property, shouted an obscenity and then flashed his reserve-deputy badge.

The laundromat owner told police he finally grabbed the badge from the man and flagged down a passing officer to report the incident.

Freddie Glusman owns the Ritz, one of Fashion Island's signature restaurants. Glusman left the reserve program as the Orange County Sheriff's Department was investigating his behavior, law enforcement officials said.

Dozens of reserve deputies -- many of them political allies of Sheriff Michael S. Carona -- were appointed to the force despite lacking full training or background checks. The reserves were removed from the state's database of peace officers because their background checks were incomplete.

The state agency that regulates reserve programs has since agreed to reinstate the reservists if they attend a police academy.

The July 4 incident is the latest case in which sheriff reserve deputies allegedly misused badges or weapons.

In one incident, a reserve deputy playing host to a Jordanian VIP flashed his badge to get a hotel employee to open rooms that were not under his name. Another became angry and identified himself as an Orange County deputy when an Amtrak ticket taker asked him and his guests to move out of an area reserved for business-class passengers.

In August, a reserve deputy who was also Carona's martial arts instructor was arrested for allegedly waving his badge and his gun at a group of golfers he believed were playing too slow. He later pleaded not guilty to four felonies and is awaiting trial.

Glusman, who once held a birthday fundraiser for Carona, could not be reached for comment, and the Sheriff's Department and declined to comment.

Laundromat owner Andrew Higgins told police that Glusman parked at the laundry and walked to a nearby coffee shop despite the no-parking signs warning that violators would be towed.

When Glusman returned, Higgins pointed out the signs and asked Glusman whether he was doing laundry, according to what Higgins told police. When Glusman said no, Higgins told him it would cost $10 to park in his lot, Higgins told authorities.

Higgins told police Glusman yelled a profanity and said, "I've got something for you" and reached inside his car. Higgins said Glusman asked, "How do you like that?" as he pulled out his reserve badge and held it up to Higgins' face.

Higgins, a former police officer, grabbed the badge from Glusman and waved down a passing officer, according to police.

Higgins declined to comment.

Glusman, 68, resigned and turned in his badge about a month ago, before the internal investigation was complete, law enforcement sources said.

Glusman is among hundreds of volunteers appointed to the Sheriff's Department as Professional Service Reserves, a category Carona created after he was elected in 1998.

The program was designed, sheriff officials say, to attract doctors, lawyers, scientists, computer specialists and other professionals willing to provide expertise on such topics as budgets and terrorism.

Critics argue the program was created mainly to recruit fundraisers from among Orange County's wealthiest citizens and that the badges were doled out as favors to political allies. Sheriff's officials have denied that the posts were political favors.

Glusman has homes in Newport Beach and Las Vegas. He bought the Ritz three years ago. He opened Piero's Italian Restaurant in Las Vegas in 1982, turning it into one of that city's most popular restaurants with celebrities and politicians.

In early May, the Ritz contributed the maximum $1,500 to Carona's campaign, according to records. Later that month, a birthday fundraiser for the sheriff was held at the restaurant.

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