Three Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies were relieved of duty last week for allegedly accepting bribes from drivers and stealing items from towed vehicles in the Lynwood area, the Sheriff's Department announced Monday.
In addition to the three deputies, a parking control officer was relieved of duty. They will continue to be paid until the department's internal investigation is complete.
A department spokeswoman declined to name the employees, saying the case remains a personnel matter unless criminal charges are filed.
The four, who worked at the Century Station in Lynwood, allegedly took payments from drivers who wanted to avoid having their vehicles towed or impounded. No other sheriff's officials were involved, the department said, and the four are believed to have acted independently, not as a team. They are also alleged to have stolen both cash and valuables from towed vehicles.
Century Station deputies patrol the city of Lynwood as well as the unincorporated areas of Florence/Firestone, Walnut Park, Athens Park, Rosewood and Willowbrook.
Lynwood Mayor José Luis Solache said he was not aware of the case and has not received any complaints from residents about towing-related shakedowns.
"Obviously, if this is happening, we need to make sure those deputies are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law," Solache said. "This should not be tolerated in Lynwood or anywhere."
Once the internal investigation is finished, the department may forward the case to the district attorney for possible criminal charges, said a spokeswoman, Nicole Nishida.
"Any acts of misconduct by members of our Department tarnish the badge all of us wear and erode the confidence the public has in law enforcement," Sheriff Jim McDonnell said in a written statement. "We will respond swiftly and resolutely whenever acts of this nature come to our attention, just as we did in this case."