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Ex-Deputy Arrested on Money Order Theft Charge : Narcotics unit: Officials call it an isolated incident. It is termed an offshoot of a three-year undercover investigation into money-skimming activities by local sheriff’s officers.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, who worked in the narcotics bureau’s forfeiture unit, has been arrested for allegedly stealing and cashing a blank money order seized during a drug raid.

Sheriff’s officials said Gladys Marynowski, who left her county job last September before later joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, was arrested as an offshoot of a three-year investigation into money-skimming by local narcotics officers.

Undersheriff Robert Edmonds said investigators conducting “Operation Big Spender” uncovered leads pointing to the alleged theft, which he described as the only one involving a member of the forfeiture unit. “This appears to be an isolated incident,” he said.

Marynowski, 35, who was arrested at her Rialto home Aug. 30, was one of a group of highly trusted deputies who handled money and property that might be confiscated by authorities because they were used in illegal activity--or were the fruits of crime.

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According to investigators, the blank money order was among the financial documents seized from a home during a drug raid in January, 1990. Authorities would not say where the raid took place or how much cash Marynowski allegedly obtained with the money order.

Marynowski could not be reached for comment, but her attorney, Janet Palilla, said, “We definitely deny the allegation, and beyond that we don’t have any comment.”

Marynowski was released on bail and will be arraigned at the end of the month, Palilla said.

A former Internal Revenue Service agent, Marynowski spent four years with the Sheriff’s Department in Los Angeles--primarily as a member of the small crew of deputies who work in the forfeiture unit. She had been employed as a Riverside sheriff’s deputy since last September, but was fired on the day of her arrest, Palilla said.

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A spokesman for the Riverside department confirmed that Marynowski had left the agency recently but declined to explain the reason.

Capt. Larry Waldie, who took over as commander of the Los Angeles sheriff’s narcotics bureau four months after the alleged theft took place, declined to discuss Marynowski or the incident.

But Waldie said the forfeiture deputies often accompany other narcotics officers on raids to determine whether particular documents--such as bank accounts and property records--can be used to link a suspect’s assets to drug activities.

Forfeiture unit deputies, who are headquartered at the narcotics bureau in Whittier, also open the sealed bags of cash, jewelry and other valuables that deputies seize during a raid, then list the property on evidence logs and place it in a safe.

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Although details of the case remain sketchy, Marynowski’s arrest marks the first time that a member of the forfeiture unit has been implicated in any theft.

Edmonds, however, insisted that the latest arrest does not signal a broadening investigation into the forfeiture unit or other areas of the department.

“We have looked at every aspect of our narcotic operation including the forfeiture asset, forfeiture processing unit with an eye toward tightening our procedure, so that those kinds of (thefts) are more difficult to accomplish,” he said.

Thirty narcotics deputies already have been suspended and 18 of them have been indicted by federal grand juries in the worst scandal in the department’s history.

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Seven deputies were convicted last December of charges ranging from conspiracy and theft to income tax evasion. This week, a second trial begins for five deputies and a Los Angeles Police Department detective accused of beating drug dealers and stealing cash and valuables.


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