Los Angeles coroner’s investigator accused of stealing a crucifix from around the neck of a dead man

Nov 8, 2023, 5:35 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles County coroner’s investigator has been arrested on suspicion of stealing a gold chain and crucifix from around the neck of a dead man, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The suspect, a 34-year-old man, faces one felony count of grand theft and one misdemeanor count of petty theft, the district attorney’s office said in a statement.

While responding to the heart-attack death of a warehouse worker last January, the investigator was recorded on surveillance video removing the crucifix necklace from the body and placing it in his medical bag, the statement said. He did not return the item or document it as required in a property receipt.

In addition, when authorities searched the suspect’s desk, they found antique coins with a receipt in the name of a man who died in November 2022. The suspect, employed by the Medical Examiner’s Office since 2018, had handled the man’s death investigation.

District Attorney George Gascón said the allegations represent a violation of trust the community places in the Medical Examiner’s Office.

“The theft of items, potential family heirlooms and sentimental pieces from the deceased, not only violates this trust but desecrates the memory of a loved one,” Gascón said in a statement.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Odey Ukpo said his office was cooperating with the investigation.

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Los Angeles coroner’s investigator accused of stealing a crucifix from around the neck of a dead man