LOS ANGELES (AP) — A request from famed fashion designer Georges Marciano prompted a criminal probe personally ordered by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, according to a published report.
Marciano, the co-founder of Guess, Inc., later donated $100,000 to two of the sheriff’s charities, the Los Angeles Times said in a Thursday story.
Documents, court testimony and interviews showed Baca had his department investigate allegations that employees embezzled $1.4 million in 2006 at Guess despite several outside audits showing no money was stolen and the case being outside the normal jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Department.
After more than a year, the investigation found no wrongdoing and the evidence suggested that the missing money had gone to foreign au pairs Marciano had flown into Los Angeles, the Times said.
A judge in a civil suit ordered Marciano to pay his employees $260 million in damages over the claims.
The case was within the jurisdiction of Beverly Hills police, but Baca told the Times that Marciano had reported the allegations directly to him and he had sent the case to his chief of detectives.
Sheriff’s Detective Alex Gilinets was assigned the case, and said he devoted about 500 hours to it, more than he spent on any other.
He said in testimony in the civil suit that his supervisors gave the case “special” status, with expectations that detectives “dot our i’s and cross our t’s above and beyond the normal investigation.”
Baca told the Times the magnitude of the allegations justified the investigation, and said he had no knowledge of the audits showing no theft occurred.
He said he should not have given the case special status, however.
“I’ve never designated any inquiry as being a special,” Baca said. “I would discourage anyone from using that phraseology on any case, other than perhaps a murder.”
In January 2007, while the department was still investigating his allegations, Marciano gave $100,000 to a pair of sheriff’s charities. In 2006 he had donated $1,000 to Baca’s attorney’s fees fund and $1,000 to Friends of Sheriff Lee Baca.
Baca said he did not know of Marciano’s donations until told by a reporter.
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