Cpt. Jeff Donahue reportedly took professional golfer-turned-jewel-thief Frank Carrillo out of the Avalon jail. Carrillo says Donahue wanted tips to improve his golf game.
Donahue is now on medical leave. Sheriff's officials are forbidden from fraternizing with inmates.
Carrillo, 41, was serving a two-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to stealing cash and jewelry from people at golf courses. He was at the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles then transferred to Catalina, where he became a trusty, which refers to a convict who is granted special privileges due to good behavior.
Word spread that he had been a pro golfer in Canada and after meeting Donahue, Carrillo suggested the idea that they play some golf. Donahue took him up on that idea and said he'd like some pointers.
Carrillo told the Los Angeles Times that the captain escorted him in a patrol Jeep to a hilltop golf course where Carrillo gave him pointers to reduce a double-digit handicap last summer.
The golf outing proved divisive among deputies at the station. Some had no problems with it while others took issue with the trip, saying it was illegal. Deputy William Cordero was in the disapproving party and filed a claim saying that other deputies harassed him when he spoke out about the incident. He has since been transferred.
Carrillo claims Sheriff Lee Baca not only knew about the outing, but he approved it. He said Baca knew him from charity golf tournaments, spoke to him during a tour of the Avalon station and did seem to approve of the golf trip.
Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore disputed those claims, saying Baca would never condone taking a trusty out to play golf.
Note: Many viewers have questioned "trusty" over "trustee" in this story. It's a common error in English. A "trusty" is a convict who is considered trustworthy and is granted special privileges. A "trustee" is a member of an organizational board.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.