Inquiry Begun on Deputies’ Fund-Raiser
The union representing 5,100 Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies is being investigated by the Los Angeles city attorney’s office for alleged violations of state and local laws governing charitable solicitations in connection with the group’s fund-raiser variety show last March at the Shrine Auditorium, officials said Wednesday.
The allegations involve the reported failure of telephone solicitors hired by the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs Inc. to register with city officials and obtain the proper permits from the city’s Social Service Department.
City officials also charged that the group’s solicitors, many of whom called potential donors on the telephone, left the impression that the association would receive all of the money donated when, in fact, it would receive only 12%.
The head of the consumer protection section of the city attorney’s office, William N. Sterling, confirmed that the deputy sheriffs’ association is under investigation, but he declined to discuss the allegations.
He said, however, that a hearing Tuesday into the allegations was postponed to June 27 at the request of the association’s officials.
The investigation was prompted by reports of complaints forwarded by the city Social Service Department, Sterling said.
George Delianedis, assistant general manager of the Social Service Department, said 88% of the funds raised went to the company that the association contracted with to do the soliciting, Lee Campbell Productions Inc. of Redondo Beach.
Under that contract, Delianedis said, the deputy sheriffs group was guaranteed at least $125,000 by Campbell Productions for the varity show, which was intended to raise funds for three causes--a rape crisis center, the California Pool for the Handicapped and the Officers’ Death and Disability Emergency Fund.
‘Won’t Show Us Their Books’
City officials said they do not know how much money the association actually received from the show “because they won’t show us their books,” Delianedis said. An estimated 4,500 people attended the variety show at the Shrine, which has a seating capacity of 6,300.
Association President J. P. Harris told a reporter through a secretary Wednesday afternoon that he did not have time to discuss the matter. The group’s vice president, Arthur Brown, did not return several telephone calls. Both men are sheriff’s deputies.
The association is the bargaining agent in employee and salary negotiations for sheriff’s deputies under the rank of sergeant.
A lawyer for Campbell Productions, Mark Brifman of Encino, said he “was not aware of any wrongdoing” in connection with the benefit. “I think Campbell Productions is caught in the middle in this,” he said. “I’m confident that this will go away.”
Brifman added that the percentage breakdown of how the money would be divided was disclosed to anyone who asked. “We weren’t trying to hide anything,” he said.
Delianedis said potential donors were told that a $20 ticket would admit a family of four into the show, a $25 ticket would “sponsor” youngsters from children’s homes to attend and $30 worth of tickets would “sponsor” the admission of six crippled children. Delianedis said it has not yet been determined whether the funds were actually used for those purposes.
Among the complaints about the fund-raising campaign, Delianedis said, were the statements of several Sherman Oaks residents who said they were called by solicitors who wanted to sell tickets for the show, which featured magicians, singers and other variety acts.
When asked by residents, the solicitors could not produce proof that they had city authorization to solicit for charitable causes in Los Angeles, Delianedis said.
The alleged violations involve misdemeanor offenses of the state Penal Code, the California Business and Professions Code and the Los Angeles Municipal Code. The maximum penalty for each of the offenses is a $500 fine and six months in jail, city officials said.
Delianedis said his department has received complaints in the past about solicitations made on behalf of the deputy sheriffs group, but nothing came of them because those lodging the complaints were “hesitant” to testify about the allegations.
In 1981, association officials demanded that then-Sheriff Peter J. Pitchess resign because, they alleged, he “went out of his way” to sabotage a $44-a-plate luncheon that the group was sponsoring in support of a foundation to help victims of violent crime.
The president of the group at the time, Deputy Les Robbins, also asked Pitchess to pay the foundation $38,719 that the association said it lost because of luncheon no-shows. Only $5,430 was raised by the Beverly Wilshire luncheon.
Pitchess said in a letter sent to association members in the days before the event that the luncheon was not supported by him or his staff. He added that the event strayed “too far from the stated purpose” of the association.