Two telemarketing firms that were convicted last summer on misdemeanor charges of improperly soliciting donations for police associations have agreed to temporarily suspend operations in Los Angeles.
Under a settlement agreement approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles Police Commission, Rambret Inc. of Hollywood will not solicit in the city for 180 days, and Variety International Productions Inc. of Glendale will stop for 30 days. Both suspensions begin Oct. 6.
Deputy City Atty. Jacquelyn Mason of the agency’s code enforcement section said that Greg Sawtelle, owner of Rambret, pleaded no contest Aug. 16 to three counts of failing to supervise telephone solicitors. He was placed on two years’ probation and ordered to pay $810 in fines and penalties.
Two Rambret employees pleaded no contest to conducting solicitations without a police permit, Mason said. Each was placed on a year’s probation. Charges are still pending against two Rambret employees.
Fred Nugent, president of Variety International, pleaded no contest June 18 to one count of failing to properly supervise telephone solicitors, Mason said. He was sentenced to one year’s probation and ordered to pay $450 in fines and penalties.
A spokesman for Variety International said the company had no comment. Sawtelle could not be reached.
The companies solicited money for the Montrose-based Municipal Motorcycle Officers of California, the National Police Rodeo Assn., and the Police Expo, which is put on by police officer associations in San Fernando, Alhambra and San Gabriel, said Los Angeles Police Detective Rudy Pichardo, who prepared the cases.
Pichardo said the police organizations are legitimate and the events are real, but only a small percentage of donations actually goes to the organizations. Most is kept by the fund-raising companies.
Although telephone solicitors generally are not required to disclose that they are being paid, the Police Commission has established municipal ordinances designed to prevent abuse of the LAPD’s name by independent police associations.
All agents who solicit on behalf of police associations must register with the commission. The promoters who hire them are responsible for ensuring that they have permits and disclose to donors that they are not police officers and are being paid.
Mason said the case was based on police inspections of the two telemarketing boiler rooms and interviews with witnesses who complained about high-pressure calls from solicitors.