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State public safety officer charged with stealing gasoline

Gas theft
City prosecutors charged a California Department of Public Safety officer assigned to Exposition Park with misusing a state gas card, authorities said Thursday.

Officer Cletton Jourdan, 44, was charged with one count of theft for filling up his private vehicle with his state-issued gas card. He is due in court June 18 for arraignment.

“Taxpayers must have confidence that their taxes are being wisely and lawfully used, and that there are serious consequences for any criminal misuse,” City Atty. Carmen A. Trutanich said in a statement.

The charge comes just days after the L.A. County district attorney's office charged three men -- including a veteran city Recreation and Parks employee -- with multiple felony counts for allegedly selling thousands of dollars of city-owned gasoline on the black market.

Michael Lee, a 12-year veteran of the Recreation and Parks Department, faces one count of embezzlement and two counts of grand theft. Shane Gansterer and Howard Lee James each were charged with one count of receiving stolen property. All have pleaded not guilty.

According to LAPD officials, Lee was allegedly pilfering gas from two police pumps and a Department of Transportation fueling station.

LAPD detectives were tipped to the alleged scheme in early April when a caller reported seeing a man selling fuel from the back of a city truck near the corner of 109th Street and Vermont Avenue. The woman alerted police after seeing a televised news conference in which City Controller Wendy Greuel announced the city was missing $7 million worth of fuel.

In the latest case involving the state employee, state prosecutors said Jourdan bought $80.41 worth of gas for his state vehicle on Dec. 1, 2011, prosecutors said. He returned to the same gas station 10 minutes later and allegedly purchased $40.59 in fuel, using the same state-issued gas card, for a private vehicle driven by his friend. 

Both receipts were turned in to his department. A supervisor launched an investigation after noticing the charges during a routine check. As part of the probe, officials found the transactions were captured on the gas station’s surveillance cameras.


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-- Andrew Blankstein (Twitter.com/anblanx)

Photo: State Department of Public Safety Officer Cletton Jourdan is charged with misusing a state gas card. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg.

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