Sheriff's official investigated over inmate golf

April 10, 2012

A yellow jail jumpsuit isn't the usual golf wear. But pro golfer-turned-thief Frank Carrillo says that's what he wore when a sheriff's official took him to a Catalina Island golf course to offer pointers.

Los Angeles County Capt. Jeff Donahue is under investigation for allegations of having an inappropriate relationship with an inmate, the Los Angeles Times ( ) reported.

Donahue, who heads the sheriff's force at Avalon that polices California's Catalina, nearby islands and waters, is on medical leave. A message left at the station seeking comment was not immediately returned Thursday.

Carrillo, 41, was serving two years after pleading guilty to stealing cash and jewelry from people at golf courses - including the World Series ring of former Dodgers catcher Jimmy Campanis. He has since been released.


He was at the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles when his good behavior helped earn him a transfer to sunny Catalina, where he became a trusty.

''It was like camp,'' he said.

Word got around that he had been a professional golfer in Canada and after meeting Donahue, Carrillo suggested the idea that they play some golf.

''I knew it was a crazy thing to say,'' Carrillo, who was briefly on the Canadian Tour in 2006, told the Times. ''But the first thing he said was, `Maybe I need a few pointers.'''

The captain escorted him in a patrol Jeep to a hilltop golf course when Carrillo gave him pointers to reduce a double-digit handicap last summer, Carrillo said.

''They don't really have a driving range. It's a net,'' he said.

Carrillo believes that the captain benefited from his advice. ''He kind of has this swing that's old school and risky, but he hits it every time,'' Carrillo said. ''I would probably say he's a 14 or 15 handicap. Not too bad.''

The Canadian Tour website listed Carrillo's home as Upland, Calif., and said he played in three events in 2006, missing the cut in all three.

The trip proved divisive among deputies at the station, where some had no problem while others thought it was illegal, according to Deputy William Cordero. Cordero, who disapproved, filed a claim contending that other deputies harassed him when he spoke out about the incident. He has since been transferred.

His claim alleges that Sheriff Lee Baca approved the outing. Carrillo 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.

''They may have said hello, a conversation may have occurred, but Baca never condoned this guy going out and playing golf,'' Whitmore said. ''He would never do that. He would never condone taking a trusty out and having them go play golf.''


Information from: Los Angeles Times,