Officials call for probe of sale of bulletproof vests
An L.A. County supervisor wants an audit into whether officials broke laws by shipping the equipment to Cambodia. And a Gardena official wants a probe into why the city was used as an intermediary.
Local officials Tuesday called for investigations into the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department funneling hundreds of bulletproof vests to Cambodia through the city of Gardena.
>>> A Gardena official also said she would be asking for an investigation into her city being used as an intermediary for the unusual transaction.
The announcements Tuesday were prompted by a Times investigation published over the weekend that found that sheriff's ballistic vests were shipped to Cambodia and not declared to customs officials, as required by federal law. Instead, they were stuffed inside one of a number of patrol cars that the Sheriff's Department was shipping directly to Cambodia, avoiding the rigorous vetting process the U.S. government requires to prevent body armor from getting into the wrong hands abroad.
Sheriff's media representatives gave The Times differing accounts about the transaction, initially denying any sheriff's officials were involved in sending the vests to Cambodia, then offering explanations contradicted by records and interviews. The officials involved in the transaction refused to discuss it. >>>
Gardena Mayor Pro Tem Rachel Johnson said she was troubled by the alleged role that the city's mayor, Paul Tanaka, played in the sales. Tanaka is the second-in-command at the Sheriff's Department.
She said she also wanted to know why her city manager approved the transaction. Records showed the city manager pledged under the penalty of perjury that the vests were intended for Gardena, despite later telling federal authorities he knew they would be diverted to Cambodia.
"I'm concerned about the appearance of a cover-up," Johnson said in an interview with The Times.
Was there any doubt that the "land of fruits and nuts" was obviously run by fruits and nuts?