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Sheriff’s Captain Probed For Reportedly Taking Pro Golf Inmate Out For Lessons

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The captain who was in charge of the L.A. County sheriff’s station in Avalon is under investigation amid allegations that he had an inappropriately cozy relationship with a professional-golfer-tuned-jewel thief who was incarcerated on Santa Catalina Island, it was reported Thursday.

Frank Carrillo says that last summer Capt. Jeff Donahue escorted him in a patrol Jeep to a hilltop golf course, where he gave the captain pointers on how to improve his swing and reduce a double-digit handicap, the Los Angeles Times reported in an article posted on its website.

Donahue’s game may have improved but he’s now at the center of an investigation for fraternizing with an inmate.

“Even though it sounds somewhat silly, we’re certainly taking this very seriously. We learned about this a while ago and we have a couple of internal affairs investigations,” said Steve Whitmore, of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

The allegations that led to the sheriff’s investigation were detailed in a complaint by one of Donahue’s subordinates, Deputy William Cordero, according to the newspaper.

Now on medical leave, Donahue headed up the sheriff’s Avalon force, which polices Catalina and San Clemente islands and the waters separating them from the mainland, according to The Times. The sheriff’s station in Avalon has its own lockup and trusties — well-behaving inmates who get some extra leeway for doing chores.

“There are certain times where you do leave the facility, absolutely, every day they go to court, but it has to be authorized,” Whitmore said.

Carrillo ended up as a trusty at the jail after making headlines for stealing a World Series championship ring from a former Dodger at a charity golf event. He eventually pleaded guilty to charges related to golf course thefts involving cash and jewelry, The Times reported. He was sentenced to two years and has since been released.

According to the Times, Carrillo claims Sheriff Lee Baca knew of the golf outing and approved of it. The sheriff’s Department denies that allegation.

Sheriff’s officials are forbidden from fraternizing with inmates. Excursions off site are rarely granted and require special security clearances. Codero said Donahue documented in the jail log that Carrillo never left the station, The Times recorded.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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