Southern California breaking news and trends

Sheriff's officials may have intentionally overpaid a contractor $11 million

lasd sheriff helicopter

Photo by Thomas Hart via Flickr Creative Commons

LASD Aero Bureau officials may have overpaid a Carlsbad contractor, Hangar One, $11 million in unjustified expenses and unnecessary equipment while outfitting the department's fleet of helicopters, an internal memo finds, reports the L.A. Times

Sheriff's officials allegedly paid the firm eight times the industry standard in labor costs, bought equipment they already had, and made six-figure purchases without the required Board of Supervisors approval.

As well, time sheets may have been compromised, and a manipulation of the bidding process is suspected -- contractor requirements were allegedly narrowed to game results in favor of Hangar One.

A lawsuit recently filed against the county by a retired lieutenant claimed that members of the LASD Aero Bureau intentionally missed calls for support, that county aircraft was being improperly used by officials, and that contractor deals were being rigged.

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Authorities accused of ignoring calls, using county aircraft

lasd sheriff helicopter

Photo by Thomas Hart via Flickr Creative Commons

Lt. Edison Cook has filed a lawsuit against the county claiming members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department air support division intentionally missed calls for support, the L.A. Times reports.

Deputies were instructed by supervisors, he said, to "slow down on service calls in order to miss calls for service." Cook claimed he was told by a supervisor not to "field too many ships because then it would look like we could get along without overtime." 

At the time of the alleged directives, Sheriff Lee Baca was regularly citing "missed calls" to the Board of Supervisors as a negative consequence of budget cuts, the Times notes.

In 2010 Cook received an email from an Aero Bureau sergeant that read, "If we go short and calls are missed we need to record the missed calls and provide our executives with the proper records so they can fight the fight," the lawsuit alleges.

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