Prisons

L.A. Sheriff's Department Took $1.6 Million Belonging to Released Inmates

In violation of state guidelines

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The Sheriff's Department took $1.6 million ­— most of belonging to released inmates — instead of directing it to the appropriate county agency, according to a report released Thursday by the county Auditor-Controller.

A spokesman for Sheriff Lee Baca, Steve Whitmore tried to downplay the problem, saying it was "more about accounting than anything else."

He vowed, however, that the department would correct the problem.

In her report, Auditor-Controller Wendy Watanabe said, "We noted that the Sheriff's inappropriately transferred approximately $1.6 million in unclaimed funds into their operating revenue over a two-year period."