To hear Supervisor Deane Dana tell it, it's not always easy to find just the right person to serve on a particular county commission.
So when Carl Hasan showed a strong interest in joining the Institutional Inspection Commission--an obscure, 10-member panel whose job is to inspect jails and probation centers and make policy recommendations--Dana took a quick look at his sparkling resume and appointed him a commissioner in March.
Hasan's credentials seemed impressive. His resume listed three college degrees, experience as the national director of a chain of business colleges and membership in Phi Beta Kappa, among other qualifications.
Creative Writing on Resume
But Hasan was not who he appeared to be.
Last week, four months after the 43-year-old Hasan had slipped comfortably into his new role in public service, sheriff's detectives arrested him on an outstanding warrant. The warrant stemmed from a misdemeanor forgery charge in 1983 to which Hasan had earlier pleaded not guilty.
At the same time, it was discovered that Hasan had practiced some creative writing on his resume. The home address he listed in Palos Verdes Estates, for example, turned out to be a vacant lot. Instead, police records show, he lives in Manhattan Beach.
Two of the three colleges he listed on his resume said he had never received a degree from them. The chain of business colleges said he was never an executive for them, either, though he had once been fired from a company sales training program.
Dana immediately booted Hasan off the commission.
"I was shocked and basically angry," Dana said this week.
According to Dana, the episode illustrates just how hard-pressed public officials are--in terms of time, staff and investigative tools--to check the backgrounds of people who apply to serve on the nearly 100 commissions and committees that have been created by the county.
But the episode also shows just how slowly the wheels of justice can move in minor criminal cases in a city beset by major ones. Indeed, if not for a nudge from fate, Hasan would still be on the commission, inspecting jails instead of sitting in one--which he did for eight days after his arrest.
Hasan, who listed his occupation as "institutional inspector" when he was arrested July 10 in Manhattan Beach, could not be reached for comment. His court-appointed attorney did not return a reporter's telephone calls.
Court records indicate Hasan's unfinished business with the law dated back to 1983, when he was arrested after he cashed a $335 check made out to a Dr. Carl Witherspoon. The transaction took place at a check cashing company in the Harbor Gateway area near Torrance.
When the check bounced and police paid Hasan a visit, according to documents filed with San Pedro Municipal Court, Hasan possessed a driver's license in his name and another in Witherspoon's. He also had other identification, including a department store credit card with the name Carl Morris on it.
Hasan told officers that he had changed his name from Witherspoon to Hasan years earlier, and he offered to make restitution. He nevertheless was booked on suspicion of forgery and released. About two months later, a formal complaint was filed against him and, a few days later, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Changed Name Years Ago
But the warrant wasn't executed by police until five years later. Hasan was then arraigned, and he pleaded not guilty. When he didn't show up for a court hearing last November, another warrant was issued for his arrest.
Deputy Los Angeles City Atty. Joe Piro said he had "no idea" why the warrants weren't executed earlier, but he suggested that the sheer volume of such warrants may have had something to do with it.
"There are over 500,000 misdemeanor warrants in the system. . . . It is a monumental task trying to serve these," Piro said.
The second warrant would probably still be gathering dust if Hasan, in his capacity as a county commissioner, had not decided to attend a Sheriff's Department gathering.
Sheriff's Lt. Gerald Dunphy said that he did not have all the details, including what type of function it was. But he said Hasan was seen by a guest who knew about his brush with the law and who in turn asked a sheriff's commander why Hasan was there.
Soon thereafter, sheriff's detectives discovered the outstanding warrant for his arrest and picked him up, Dunphy said.
Hasan was released from jail early Wednesday, one day after he agreed to make restitution--in the form of a $335 cashier's check, according to Piro.
"The case for all intents and purposes is finished," Piro said.
Dana, meanwhile, is still feeling the sting from the incident. On Tuesday, county supervisors, on a motion by Dana, ordered the county's lawyers to determine how they can better obtain and verify information on citizens who want to serve on commissions.
Dana said this week that county supervisors do not have the time or staff to verify biographical or other information about candidates for county appointments.
Dana said that a major reason he appointed Hasan was because of his resume, much of which proved to be false.
For example, Hasan had listed a master's degree from UCLA and a doctorate from UC Berkeley. But officials on both campuses said this week that they could find no records indicating Hasan received a degree.
The resume also said he had been national director of the Allied Education Corp., based in Newport Beach. However, in an interview this week, Allied Vice President Roger Williams said that it simply wasn't true. Williams said Hasan was hired as a sales manager trainee last October but was terminated in January.
Good Things About Hasan
Besides the resume, Dana said that he and members of his staff had heard good things about Hasan from the South Coast Botanic Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, where Dana and his wife are active. Norma Cantafio, executive director for the garden, said her staff did not write a letter of recommendation for Hasan, but she said she and other workers at the garden knew Hasan.
During the garden's annual fund-raiser in May, Hasan put in more than 100 hours of volunteer time over a two-month period, Cantafio said.
"He seemed like a fine human being," she said. "What can you tell from working with a human being for just a few hours?"
Dana said Hasan was very personable, a view shared by Mike Manicone, who has served on the commission for 15 years. Manicone said Hasan got along well with the commission workers and seemed to know what he was doing.
"If you had talked to him for five minutes," Manicone said, "I guarantee you would have liked him."