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Chief of D.A.'s Environmental Unit Replaced

Times Staff Writer

The head of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s environmental crimes unit, a long-time aide to Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner, has been replaced, it was announced Friday.

Barry C. Groveman, who came from the Los Angeles city attorney’s office to the district attorney’s office with Reiner in 1984, is on a leave of absence and will be reassigned to a deputy district attorney’s post in a branch office if he returns at year’s end, said Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Gilbert Garcetti.

Groveman Friday expressed surprise when informed by reporters that he had been replaced. However, he said that he “understood they couldn’t hold the position open forever.”

Groveman said he is working on behalf of the state toxics control initiative, which qualified this week for a spot on the Nov. 4 ballot. The initiative would prohibit businesses from discharging chemicals that cause cancer or birth defects into drinking water supplies, require advance warning of the presence of such chemicals in drinking water and food supplies and increase penalties for violations of state toxics laws.

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Replacement Named

Groveman was replaced by another special assistant, Jan Chatten-Brown, who came with Reiner when he gave up the city attorney’s post after winning election as district attorney. She will also continue to serve as special assistant for occupational safety and health prosecutions.

Chatten-Brown will work under acting head Deputy Dist. Atty. John Lynch.

The only other two special assistants appointed by Reiner--in consumer protection and child-abuse programs--have also resigned but have not been replaced.

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When Reiner took office in December, 1984, he announced creation of both Chatten-Brown’s and Groveman’s positions with a flourish, warning corporate executives that “jail, rather than a fine, is the penalty that best fits” perpetrators of crimes against the environment and worker safety.

‘Gang Busters’

Groveman declared at the time, “Our job is going to be to come in like gang busters.”

However, Garcetti said Friday that Groveman’s unit “had done some good things--we think they can do a lot more in terms of the number of prosecutions and the impact of particular cases and investigations.”

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