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L.A. fraud hotline expands to dozens of languages

Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel said Wednesday she has expanded her hotline for waste and fraud to handle dozens of languages in part because of reports in The Times about city employees preying on immigrant communities.

The hotline is (866) 428-1514 and will provide access to translators who speak Korean, Armenian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Persian and Russian, as well as dozens of others.

To access an interpreter, callers must identify the language they need so an operator can locate someone who speaks that language, a spokeswoman for Greuel said.

Greuel said the hotline will help ensure whistle-blowers get their voices heard.

"Having a multilingual hotline sends a message that we are serious about investigating credible tips and rooting out fraud, waste and abuse," she said in a statement.

The hotline already provides translation in Spanish.

Greuel, who is running for mayor, said she added the feature in response to reports by The Times on a clerk in the Los Angeles Housing Department accused of demanding bribes from Korean landlords.

That clerk, 58-year-old Eun Chavis, pleaded no contest last year and served 12 days in jail plus home detention. After violating her probation, Chavis received another 15 days in jail.

She earns a yearly pension of more than $31,000. Police said she victimized three sets of landlords.

Housing officials said they did not know of Chavis' illegal behavior because her supervisor did not speak Korean.

At the Department of Building and Safety, two inspectors pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges that they demanded bribes in exchange for permits at building sites in South Los Angeles.

Those inspectors were recorded by the FBI carrying out many of those transactions in Spanish.

ALSO:

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Arrest made in Yorba Linda double homicide case

5 inmates convicted in 2006 fatal beating at O.C. County Jail

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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