West Hollywood and other cities in Los Angeles County may have been the victim of a fraudulent billing scheme perpetrated by the Sheriff’s Department, according to an explosive new legal claim.
On Wednesday, the City of Compton accused the Sheriff’s Department of falsifying records to make it appear as though deputies were patrolling the streets when in fact they were not.
Like Compton, the City of West Hollywood contracts with the Sheriff’s Department to provide law enforcement services for about $20 million annually.
An anonymous sheriff’s deputy told the Los Angeles Times that, while working at the West Hollywood station, he was ordered to alter records to make it appear as though a deputy was out on patrol when in reality he was home with an injury.
“That’s straight-up fraud,” he said. “It’s so rampant that it became the norm.”
“Taxpayers are footing the bill for law enforcement services,” Compton City Attorney Damon Brown said. “For the Sheriff’s Department to be defrauding them of those dollars and essentially to steal money right out of the city coffers, that can’t go unaddressed.”
The City of West Hollywood issued a statement in response to the allegations.
“The City of West Hollywood is aware of serious allegations from the City of Compton, California, against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva in a Claim for Damages announced today by Compton City leaders.
In its Claim for Damages, the City of Compton alleges that the Los Angeles County Sheriff overbilled its city for Sheriff’s personnel time. A news article today additionally reported a Sheriff’s Deputy’s allegation in a media interview that, while working at the West Hollywood Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, he was asked to fabricate records.
The City of West Hollywood has a regular monthly internal review process for its public safety billing in coordination with its local station’s leadership. This review process ensures checks and balances and serves to monitor how the City is billed for Sheriff’s personnel time.
The City of West Hollywood looks to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and to Supervisor Sheila Kuehl for a full and transparent process regarding billing discrepancies and misappropriations alleged in the Claim for Damages.
The City Council of the City of West Hollywood will, at its next regular meeting on June 7, 2021, consider adopting a Resolution calling on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Inspector General to work with the California Contract Cities Association to audit the billing with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for all contract cities. The City of West Hollywood refers all press inquiries to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Headquarters at (323) 526-5541.”