Top LA County Sheriff’s official bought stolen Audi – Los Angeles Times

Posted: Thursday, October 08, 2015

A top-ranking Los Angeles County sheriff’s official bought a stolen luxury sedan last year from the owner of a towing company that contracts with his agency, a Times investigation has found.

Assistant Sheriff Michael Rothans paid $3,000 for the 2012 Audi A4, which had been seized by sheriff’s deputies from a suspected gang member at a drunk-driving checkpoint.

The Sheriff’s Department launched an internal investigation last week after The Times questioned Rothans about his vehicle purchase.

Rothans, the department’s third-ranking official, said he had no idea he was driving a stolen car until more than a year after he purchased it from Lisa Vernola, a longtime friend who owns Vernola’s Towing in Norwalk.

Rothans said he knew that department policy prohibited him from buying a car directly from the towing company, but he considered the transaction a private sale between himself and Vernola. Vernola had registered the car in her name after no one claimed it from her impound lot.

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