A former Compton police chief accused of stealing $5,000 in funds earmarked for buying undercover narcotics pleaded not guilty Thursday to a grand theft charge.
Terry Ray Ebert, 49, entered his plea in Los Angeles Municipal Court to one count of grand theft.
Commissioner John Ladner ordered Ebert, who is free on his own recognizance, to return to court May 26, when a preliminary hearing date is expected to be set. If convicted, Ebert could be sentenced to three years in prison.
He is accused of taking the money sometime between when he became chief on June 1, 1990, and April 1, 1992, when an audit revealed the loss, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Terry White. Ebert, who was with the Compton Police Department for 23 years, resigned a month later.
Evidence indicates that money from other department funds was put into the buy fund to cover up the missing $5,000, White said. Undercover narcotics officers use the money in the fund to buy drugs that are then used as evidence against dealers. White said the fund is usually kept at about $8,000.