Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Photo by John Schreiber.

Los Angeles County Assistant Sheriff Michael Rothans, who bought a stolen luxury sedan from the owner of a towing company that contracts with the department, announced his retirement Tuesday.

Rothans, who is on a leave absence, announced that he will retire effective Oct. 24, according to the sheriff’s department. His career with the department began in 1984.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Rothans, 53, sent an email to sheriff’s department executives announcing plans to retire because of long-term health issues “that have recently been exacerbated and need to be addressed.”

Rothans is two years away from the age when he would have maximized his county retirement benefits, The Times reported.

Rothans’ announcement came after an internal department investigation was opened into his purchase of a stolen 2012 Audi A4. Rothans bought the car, which he believed to be a 2010 model, for $3,000 in May 2014 from Lisa Vernola, who owns Vernola’s Towing in Norwalk.

The Kelley Blue Book value for a similar car in good condition is more than $17,000, The Times reported.

The sheriff’s department began an internal investigation after The Times questioned Rothans about his vehicle purchase.

Rothans, the department’s third-ranking official, said he had no idea he was driving a stolen car until more than a year after he purchased it from Vernola.

According to The Times, Rothans said he knew department policy prohibited him from buying a car directly from a towing company, but he considered the transaction a private sale between himself and Vernola, who registered the car in her name after no one claimed it from her impound lot.

The Audi was stolen from a dealership in Mission Viejo on the day after Christmas in 2011, according to The Times. Around Aug. 21, after driving the Audi on his off-duty hours for more than a year, Rothans received a notice from the DMV to take the car in for a VIN verification.

At the California Highway Patrol’s East Los Angeles station, an officer discovered that the VIN on the car’s dashboard belonged to the 2012 Audi that had been stolen from the Mission Viejo dealership.

— Wire reports 

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