$56,210 in Evidence Money to Be Repaid

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles city officials have decided to repay a Hollywood man $56,210 in cash that was stolen from the Police Department's evidence locker after narcotics investigators confiscated it from his home.

The City Council voted unanimously July 31 to repay Sydney Schwartz, whose bundle of money was seized from his safe a year ago Friday.

Mayor Tom Bradley approved the payment Aug. 7. A spokesman for the city attorney's office said a check should be in the mail to Schwartz in a few weeks.

"We are still investigating the circumstances of the missing money," Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Lt. Fred Nixon said. "Theft of any kind and of any amount from the property room is extremely rare." The police property room is staffed by civilian employees, officials said.

However, Schwartz cannot be located, and among those looking for him is attorney John E. Meyers, who says Schwartz owes him $20,000 for "doing all the work in the case."

"Damn that Schwartz," Meyers said in an interview. "I haven't heard a word from him in months."

The case of the missing money began Aug. 16, 1990, when police investigators received information that Schwartz allegedly was selling drugs out of his home, Meyers said.

Schwartz, who was on probation for an earlier felony conviction for possession of drugs, agreed to let the officers look around, he said.

They did not find any drugs and Schwartz was not arrested. But the $56,210 in cash was booked into evidence at the police property room, Meyers said.

Police Department officials hoped to turn it over to the Asset Forfeiture Unit as possible proceeds of illegal narcotics activity. Schwartz argued at the time that "he got the money from sales of property," the attorney said.

On Aug. 24, 1990, it was missing.

"I kept calling the city attorney's office and the Police Department to find out what happened to the money," Meyers said. "Finally, I was informed by the police that the whole thing was under investigation because someone in the property room stole it."

Meyers filed a claim for the money, which was investigated by the city attorney's office.

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