This Cop is Being Investigated for Car Theft, So He “Resigned Due to Health Issues”

A senior police officer has decided to resign, despite being at the centre of an internal investigation that began on October 1. He claims his decision has to do with ongoing health issues that have recently become worse.

Assistant Sheriff at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Michael Rothans is accused of purchasing in driving a stolen vehicle from a vendor who also happened to have a contract with the police department.

When Rothans bids adieu to his job of almost 32 years on October 26, he will longer be obliged to answer any questions from the investigators.

He has also been granted paid leave between now and his retirement date.

The 53-year-old’s base salary is approximately $240,000. He is retiring two years before he would become entitled to full retirement benefits.

An in-depth inquiry – the nature of the deal

The investigation will look at several aspects of a complicated matter.

The family of the vendor, Lisa Vernola – a tow-yard owner, had been friends with Rothans for decades.

She had been a contractor with the police department since at least 1996 and Pico Revera Sherriff’s Station was one of her clients.

Nine years ago before being promoted to a senior position Rothans was in charge of the Pico Revera station for a four-year period from 2006 to 2010.

Later on, as Assistant Sheriff he was responsible for overseeing the patrol operations of the station along with others in the county.

An Audi A4 car had been at Vernola’s yard since 2013, after being confiscated from the driver who was arrested at a DUI checkpoint for various charges.

According to the tow yard owner, no one took an interest in the car after it was advertised in the lien sale.

So she says, she decided to keep the car for herself and registered it to her name on May 3, 2014.

However, curiously she made the decision to sell it within days when, she says, it turned out to have too many mechanical problems.

It is then that Rothans, who was visiting her father at the yard for lunch, took an interest in the vehicle. It had clocked 24,000 miles at this time.

Only 18 days later on May 21 2014 Rothans registered an Audi A4 to his name.

He bought it from Vernola for $3000. At this stage, the officer claims that he believed the car was a 2010 model. The Kelly Blue Book value for a similar vehicle in good condition is about $17,000.

This counts for one of the issues that investigators may look into.

Did Rothans pay a fair price for the car?

Details of the car

After the officer purchased the car he continued to drive it for one year.

On September 4 this year an officer at the California Highway Patrol’s East L.A. station noticed that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the car was counterfeit.

It turned out that the Audi A4 was a 2012 model that had been stolen from a Mission Viejo Audi and the car was immediately returned to the dealership.

The vehicle had actually been stolen on December 26, 2011 and the VIN from another, similar, vehicle had been affixed on it.

Two years later, a man called Robert Stephen Orozco was driving it and he was arrested at a DUI checkpoint on suspicion of firearms violations.

This is when the car was impounded at Vernola’s tow yard, where Rothans purchased it from.

The sheriff’s department says it realizes that warding to win contracts should not be the responsibility of the captains as this may result in nepotism.

A new policy will soon be introduced whereby a panel of three chiefs who do not work in the patrol divisions will make the decision.

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About author

Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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