Assistant Los Angeles Sheriff Michael Rothans has announced his retirement from the Sheriff’s Department for “health reasons” while he is being investigated for purchasing an impounded Audi, believed to be year 2010, with 24,000 miles on it, for just $3,000 from Lisa Vernola, who happens to own Vernola Towing in Norwalk, California. Vernola Towing has a contract with the Sheriff’s Department and such purchases by Sheriff officials are strictly prohibited. Purportedly the Kelley Blue book lists a similar car – if in good condition – for $17,000.00. But Rothans was able to buy it for only $3,000.
In fact, the subject Audi was not a 2010 model but is a 2012 model that reportedly was stolen while new from a car dealership in Mission Viejo.
Assistant Sheriff Rothans told the Los Angeles Times newspaper that he had no idea it was stolen and when he bought it it had 24,000 miles on it and needed a radio and had rear end damage. Rothans allegedly could not provide any receipts for such alleged repairs.
Lisa Vernola, the towing company owner, allegedly stated Rothans was her friend and she just wanted to get rid of this Audi and did not give Rothans any special deal.
Sheriff officials are prohibited from buying anything that has been seized by the department and this prohibition applies not only to direct purchases from the seizing company like Vernola Towing in Norwalk, but also to any purchases through a third party or “straw man”.
Rothans just retired from his position which paid a base salary of $240,000.00 plus the many benefits conferred by the county. While there is no allegation Rothans knew the Audi had been stolen, Rothans clearly should have known and followed the prohibition not to buy seized property.
Such misconduct cannot be tolerated and the Times investigators should be congratulated for their investigative reporting.
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