Towing Firm's Gift of Dog to Police Is Focus of Probe

The city attorney has informed prosecutors that a towing company gave the Police Department a dog valued at $6,200, which could be a violation of a ban on the acceptance of gifts from companies that do business with the department.

The development comes amid a Sheriff's Department probe into whether police officers inappropriately purchased cars from local towing services used by the department.

In a March 2 letter headed "Towgate," a reference to the probe, City Atty. Elizabeth Martyn asked the district attorney's office to review the purchase of the specially trained dog by a local towing firm for the Police Department.

Martyn wrote that the dog issue was part of her internal investigation that led to the February firing of Police Chief John Distelrath, who accepted the canine. He has denied any wrongdoing.

City officials said Basuras Towing paid $6,200 to a dog-training facility in July 1995 for the police dog. Police said Basuras is one of three towing firms that remove cars for the department.

"I give back to the community that I do business with," said Mike Basuras, the firm's owner. "I did the same for Baldwin Park when their dog died. I'm shocked at this letter."

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