L.A. County Assistant Sheriff Revealed to have Bought Stolen Car

The car, a 2012 Audi A4, had been stolen from an Orange County Dealership in late 2011 before being seized by sheriff’s deputies at a drunk-driving checkpoint in 2013 when they stopped a suspected gang member.

Assistant Sheriff Michael Rothans then bought and drove it for over a year before finding out it had been stolen. Rothans bought it through Lisa Vernola, a friend of Rothans’ who also owns Vernola’s Towing out in Norwalk.

Normally, Sheriff's officials are prohibited from purchasing property that has been seized by the department. The prohibition applies both to direct purchases and purchases made through a third party.

Rothans’ justified the purchase as a “private transaction through friends,” as Vernola had took private ownership of the car after it went unclaimed and then failed to sell at a public sale. Vernola said she would have sold the car to anyone making an offer, saying “I wanted to get rid of it. It wasn’t worth crap.”

While the $3,000 Rothans paid for it is well beneath Blue Book value, Rothans claims the car required a good deal of work, including a new engine. Rothans could not produce receipts for the work done.

The car has been returned to the dealership it was stolen from, Mission Viejo Audi, in good condition.

Further reading on the stolen Audi can be found here.