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Sheriff personnel suspended while investigated

April 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The commander of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's station in Carson has been relieved of duty while a criminal investigation takes place.

Two sources who have been briefed on the case say it is a criminal investigation and involves the potential of serious charges -- especially for Captain Bernice Abram. L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca says it's not a criminal investigation.

Abram, a 20-year veteran of the department, has not been charged. She was suspended with pay from her job because of concerns presented from outside the department.

Eyewitness News has learned those concerns came from the FBI, though an FBI spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the FBI's part in this.

The investigation involves favors to gang members and families, according to sources.

"Right now we don't know to what extent the allegations are factual," said Baca. "We do know it's important that we look at this."

Suspended at the same time was Deputy Chantell White, who the captain called her niece. White works at the Lennox jail and has been a deputy for three years. The investigation into White reportedly involves similar allegations.

"The individual was also relieved of duty on the same day as Captain Abram, and is also part of an ongoing investigation. Both individuals were relieved of duty pending the outcome of the investigation," said L.A. County Assistant Sheriff Paul Tanaka.

Tanaka and Abram have known each other since junior high school. He says there is no conflict of interest. He and Baca both say the investigation should be wrapped up in a few weeks.

Abram commanded some 300 deputies in Carson. Calls to the captain have not been returned. Eyewitness News was not able to contact White.

"This is an independent review on our part, and therefore we're looking at the allegations as they stand," said Baca. "It's our investigation."

Baca expects their investigation to wrap up within 30 days.