Ex-County Marshal Timothy Sperl, 66

Times Staff Writer

Former Los Angeles County Marshal Timothy Sperl, who was fired after conviction on charges involving the use of deputy marshals in political activities more than a decade ago, died of a heart condition Tuesday in a Santa Monica hospital.

Sperl, 66, had been hospitalized at St. John's Hospital and Health Center for several days.

A native of Los Angeles and graduate of Hamilton High School, Sperl was named county marshal in January, 1971, after more than 20 years as a deputy marshal after service in the Army Air Corps in World War II.

He was indicted three years after becoming marshal and convicted in August, 1974, of felony charges, including destruction of public records, falsification of records and misappropriation of public funds. The allegations involved the illegal use of deputy marshals to drive politicians and aid in selling tickets to fund-raising dinners.

In his own defense, Sperl contended that his indictment was "politically inspired" and that members of his staff were coerced into testifying against him.

His attorney, Paul Caruso, charged that people in Sperl's office wanted the marshal's job.

Superior Court Judge Richard Gadbois sentenced Sperl to six months in jail. But, according to relatives, the sentence was modified to probation because of Sperl's ill health. He was officially fired by the Los Angeles County Municipal Judges Assn. in May, 1975, despite Sperl's contention that the judges could not fire him since he had already retired.

Relatives said Sperl, who had written and acted in television court programs in the 1950s, went into business, including owning a lumber yard in South Dakota, after leaving the marshal's office. He also served on community development committees in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo, where he owned property.

Sperl is survived by his daughter, Timmie, and son, Anthony, a former Stanton police officer who fatally shot a 5-year-old boy in 1983 after mistaking the child's toy gun for a real weapon. The younger Sperl, then 25, retired and filed for disability after the shooting.

Funeral services will be private with interment at Hollywood Memorial Park.

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