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L.A. County reviewing health department workers' criminal records

Supervisor Mike Antonovich says the assessment may determine whether some employees should be disqualified from their jobs because of their convictions.

February 04, 2009|Garrett Therolf

Top Los Angeles County officials are conducting a case-by-case review of all health department employees known to have criminal histories in order to determine whether some workers have convictions that should disqualify them from their jobs, Supervisor Mike Antonovich said Tuesday.

Antonovich -- who said he privately asked for a thorough assessment of criminal backgrounds among the county's 20,000 health workers late last year -- disclosed his request four days after The Times reported that a convicted rapist had been hired as an X-ray technologist by County-USC Medical Center managers despite reporting his convictions on his job application.

The case of Gariner Beasley has raised serious questions about whether the county properly vetted health department employees responsible for caring for patients.

"What happened with these hirings was unconscionable, and those responsible have been disciplined or retired," Antonovich said of managers known to have approved inappropriate personnel.

Antonovich said in an interview Tuesday that he does not yet know the results of his request for a large-scale assessment of criminal histories.

William T Fujioka, the county's chief executive, is scheduled to report on the matter to the Board of Supervisors at next week's meeting, he said.

Until now, no county supervisor had made a commitment to reevaluate hiring, promotion and transfer decisions involving people with serious criminal offenses who did not work at Martin Luther King Jr.- Harbor Medical Center, where widespread issues with criminal histories of employees became known after managers prepared to transfer workers from the troubled hospital in Willowbrook, south of Watts, to other county facilities.

Beasley, 48, was quietly fired in August after working in county hospitals for a decade. His dismissal came about a month after The Times first reported results of the King audit of employee's criminal pasts.

In recent months, supervisors turned down repeated requests from The Times for details about the convictions and jobs of those workers.

Details in Beasley's case only became known after he appealed his termination and his name became public.

Beasley had been convicted of raping two women under color of authority while on duty as a Los Angeles police officer in the early 1990s.

His actions cost the city of Los Angeles nearly $300,000 in civil settlements with his victims.

Antonovich spoke Tuesday after he and his four fellow supervisors unanimously approved his motion calling for additional information to be made available to them about Beasley's hiring and continued employment.

Beasley was first hired by the county four years after he was paroled, according to county and court records. He was later transferred from County-USC Medical Center to what was then known as Martin Luther King Jr.-Drew Medical Center.

The facility has since closed in-patient services and has been renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center.

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garrett.therolf@latimes.com

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