VENTURA : Probation Office Claim Investigated

The Ventura County district attorney's office is looking into allegations of wrongdoing in connection with a claim against the county charging that a probation officer obtained free legal services from one of his probationers, county officials said.

Scarlett O'Casey of Ventura alleged in a claim filed in October that Probation Officer Christopher Jiron has been lenient on her estranged husband, attorney Benson J. Goldstein of Woodland Hills, because of a conflict of interest involving a land deal.

Victor Hostetter, supervising deputy probation officer, said the district attorney's inquiry focuses on two letters that were turned over to the probation department by O'Casey. Goldstein has called the two letters, both dated Dec. 27, 1989, forgeries.

One letter bears the alleged signature of Jiron and was addressed to Goldstein. The other allegedly was sent by Goldstein to Jiron.

Jiron and Goldstein have denied writing, sending or receiving either letter, both of which discuss a real estate deal Jiron allegedly was considering. They said their dealings have been strictly related to probation business stemming from Goldstein's conviction of spousal abuse in 1989.

"I am very relieved that the D.A. has an interest in investigating this fully," Jiron said.

"I believe that both documents are totally forged," Goldstein said, adding that he and Jiron have discussed the letters and "we just sat there dumbfounded."

O'Casey gave copies of the letters to the probation officials two weeks ago. O'Casey said a man rode up to her Ventura office on a motorcycle and dropped the letters on her desk while she was on the telephone.

Asked if she believed that they could be forgeries, O'Casey said, "I doubt that they could be. I'm sure that that will be the claim."

Probation officials met last week with Donald D. Coleman, special assistant district attorney, who told them that he would investigate the allegations against Jiron, Hostetter said.

Coleman would neither confirm nor deny that he is conducting an investigation.

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