L.A. County Sheriff’s Department trainee stole $100,000 from ATM, authorities allege
A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recruit a couple of months into academy training was arrested in connection with a theft from a Newhall bank ATM that saw more than $100,000 taken.
Julio Cesar Jimenez, 35, was taken into custody Feb. 15, two months after he was hired by the department. At the time of the theft in late November, Jimenez was working as a licensed security guard for an armored car company, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
His arrest is another black mark for the Sheriff’s Department recruiting program that in the last decade has seen several trainees and rookies arrested for crimes.
“Suspect Jimenez is no longer employed by the Department,” Capt. Darren Harris said in a statement Wednesday in reply to questions about the arrest.
Jimenez was arrested in connection with a sophisticated grand theft of money from a Newhall bank automatic teller machine Nov. 28, just two weeks before he formally joined the Sheriff’s Department. He is also suspected of a Dec. 1 arson.
The Santa Clarita resident was booked on suspicion of theft, arson and embezzlement. During a search of his home, investigators recovered much of the stolen $120,000, according to sources.
Harris said Jimenez, who formally started working for the department Dec. 18, was in the first phase of the 22-week academy “when the discovery of his potential involvement in the crimes surfaced.”
Jimenez could not be reached for comment. According to state records, Jimenez is a licensed firearm-carrying security guard.
Harris said the Sheriff’s Department conducts an extensive background check of applicants with less than 5% of them completing the process and entering the academy.
“Based on the timeline, it appears the crimes allegedly committed by Jimenez occurred between the time his background investigation concluded and his date of employment with the department,” a department statement said.
The Sheriff’s Department has a history of hiring some deputies with checkered pasts, and misconduct has been a recurring issue. Department oversight reports in the past have criticized the department lowering of standards as the force has increased the number of deputies on the payroll.
In 2010, the Sheriff’s Department hired nearly 300 officers from a little-known county police force, including some who had accidentally fired their weapons, had sex at work and solicited prostitutes. Nearly, 100 had issues with dishonesty, including lying or falsifying police records, according to records review by The Times.
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