LA County Assistant Sheriff Announces Retirement After Controversial Car Purchase Comes to Light

On Tuesday morning, news raced around the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department that Assistant Sheriff Mike Rothans
had emailed friends and colleagues letting them know that he would be retiring—and he would be pulling the pin, so to speak, really, really soon—like on October 24.

By Tuesday afternoon, the LASD made it official that the department’s third-in-command was definitely leaving.

The announcement read in part:

Assistant Sheriff Michael J. Rothans, who is currently on a leave of absence, has announced his intention to retire from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department effective Saturday, October 24, 2015. Assistant Sheriff Rothans’ career with the Sheriff’s Department began in 1984. Over the course of his tenure with LASD, he worked a variety of assignments, was promoted through the ranks, and in June of 2014, Sheriff John Scott promoted him to the position of Assistant Sheriff overseeing patrol operations.

While no one in an official capacity is saying so outright, the timing seems to have a great to do with the investigation that was opened by the sheriff into the matter of the car that Rothans purchased from his longtime friend, Lisa Vernola, who also happens to be the owner of a towing company with which the sheriff’s department does business. In addition to the fact that it’s a distinct no-no for department members to buy items that the LASD has impounded (which was the case with this particular auto), the car—a 2012 Audi A4 luxury car—turned out to be stolen.

Oh, and Rothans bought the Audi for $3000, which appears, at least on the surface, to be a preposterous underpayment. (Keep in mind that this make and model, if it is in good condition, would sell today in the $20,000 range. If in bad condition, but drivable, it goes for $10,000 or so.) Admittedly, Rothans claims he had to make a lot of costly repairs but, when we last checked, he was still unable to produce receipts for those repairs.

The fact that Rothans made the purchase only came to light after the phoney VIN number on the car—presumably affixed by the thieves after they stole the Audi from a dealership—got flagged by the DMV. The DMV then sent a letter to the assistant sheriff asking him to bring the Audi in for a “VIN verification.”….and things got mighty messy from there—especially after the LA Times’ Cindy Chang got wind of the stolen car and contacted the LASD to ask a few questions. News travelled quickly to Sheriff McDonnell who asked Internal Affairs to launch an investigation. McDonnell also asked that LASD Inspector General Max Huntsman be notified of the probe, and said he welcomed Huntsman’s involvement.

We are happy to note that, according to the LASD spokesman, Commander Keith Swensson, “a full and complete investigation” into the matter of Assistant Sheriff Rothans and the stolen Audi will not be derailed by his retirement, but is ongoing.

“The sheriff believes this is all an issue of public trust,” said Swensson.


It’s also good to know that—as we reported on Friday-–the sheriff and his staff will soon put into place new policies for the selection of tow company contractors that it is hoped will prevent future conflicts of interest—real or perceived.

(Hopefully the new policies will also prevent outright graft and corruption, which would be a very nice thing as well. But that’s another conversation altogether.)


  • Pressure is a bitch. Funny how one has to leave LASD not on their own terms. Another imposter exposed.

  • I could be wrong but I kinda think his retirement has something to do with the investigation….I don’t want to jump to conclusions but I kinda think he is on the run….hmmmmmm….time will tell.

  • Rumor has it that the station can’t seem to find the CHP-180, hum I wonder who has access to files like that. Very interesting, the Plot thickens.

  • Is it possible to replace Rothans with a non-Tanaka exec? All the current execs came up playing by the same unethical rules. That’s all they know. Those rules were inplace long before Tanaka rose to power, he just mastered them to his benefit.
    Sheriff Mcdonnell, your Deputies are watching. Send the right message.

  • Wow, that’s reassuring: Commander Keith Swensson, the new Steve Whitmore Spin Meister, assures that a full and complete investigation into this latest scandal, will not be derailed by Rothans’ retirement. Really? Anybody that knows Tyler and Mannis will tell you, they will both have their fingers deep into this case, and it’s not going to be for the sole purpose of ensuring comprehensiveness and completeness, but to engineer the outcome to put their boss in the best light.

    “The sheriff believes this is all an issue of public trust,” said Swensson. Really, Keith? If the Sheriff was concerned about public trust, he’d send at least a couple hundred of the remaining Tanaka minions out the door right behind Rothans. Talk all you want about policy, and public trust, but it’s just talk. Retaining the hundreds of people from the Baca / Tanaka army only demonstrates that the sheriff is willing to place people completely lacking in personal and professional integrity, into management and executive ranks on the department. The Sheriff’s actions so far seem half hearted.

  • “Hopefully the new policies will also prevent outright graft and corruption, which would be a very nice thing as well. But that’s another conversation altogether.)”

    Ah ha, Celeste! What else do you know? Be afraid, cretins. Be very afraid. The curtain on LASD’s comedy of errors and corruption has barely been raised.

  • The elements of bribery in both state and federal statutes are nearly identical. Maybe the Feds should take the handle on this one, so there is no appearance of a cover up. Federal sentencing guidelines are much stricter, so if convicted he would do more time and perhaps share a cell with the litle fella. Are you reading this, AUSA? Easy stat. Go get him!

  • Which is is worse….an A/S driving a victor or being detained at a massage parlor. Nothing ever changes but the names. But don’t worry I’m sure IAB will conduct a complete and thorough investigation free of political interference. Right KM?

  • Now we are getting into the world of the surreal. So Mannis, who couldn’t find a crook in San Quentin, is going to oversee the department’s internal investigation? The same person who oversaw all of those stellar Tanaka-driven investigations designed to punish his enemies or reward his supporters?

    I’m sorry, McDonnell, but your judgment is seriously being called into question here. There is a possibility of criminal conduct, not just policy violations, and you have put in place the very machine used by Baca and Tanaka to do as they please – one result coming right up sir! How would you like it? Good guy? Exoneration of course! No problem! What, he didn’t fetch when you said go? We’ll find the bastard guilty of something, even if we have to make it up!

    Sheriff McDonnell, you cannot continue to use a management staff that was an integral part of the Baca/Tanaka corruption. They are incapable of making ethical decisions for the betterment of the department, it’s not in their nature. A lack of integrity is not cured by a clean slate, all it does is give them a license to conduct business as usual. That means rewarding sycophants, punishing rivals, and never looking out for what’s best for the organization as a whole – it’s always about ass kissing and boot licking.

    Is that the legacy you want to leave to future generations of the department? Why should anyone work hard, play by the rules, and advance the interests of the community when that has absolutely ZERO value to the organization?

    McDonnell, it’s time for a course correction.

  • LATBG: A little hard on Commander Mannis. I’m quite sure she earned her present rank based on years of hard work and sacrifice. I assume she was a good street cop and took a lot of people to jail. She probably was adept at calling vehicle pursuits and setting up containments for wanted felons. She was probably involved in a few uses of significant force and may have been involved in a shooting or two. Basically, all the things a deputy typically gets involved in during the weekend at a busy station. I doubt she would have been promoted otherwise. The Department would never place an unqualified individual in a leadership position unless they possessed the necessary skills and experience to pass judgment on subordinates for violations of Policy and Procedures. But then again….I could be wrong.

  • Missing CHP-180 and missing investigations. Reminds me of the missing SEB application of the Phony Navy SEAL who ‘left’ the bureau after his Stolen Valor was discovered by a fireman and former SEAL. Don’t worry, after lying about being a SEAL for 10-15 years at LASD, he was taken care of and went to a nice UC gig, promoted to Sgt and is now a new custody Lt. Guess it pays to go on desert trips with his long time daddy, Chief P. So much for the sheriff’s new honesty policy.

  • Bandwagon, in your words: “The Department would never place an unqualified individual in a leadership position unless they possessed the necessary skills and experience to pass judgment on subordinates for violations of Policy and Procedures.”

    I really, really, hope you were engaging in an elevated form of sarcasm. If you were being sincere, perhaps you can take a look at Exhibit A: Larry Waldie. The list is long and distinguished, but I think you get the point.

  • Celeste, by reviewing all of the comments pertaining to this Rothans affair, it is obvious the sleeping dog has been kicked regarding the Command Staff of Captains and above. The pure disgust and disappointment of the LASD family is directed specifically at Sheriff McDonnell. He ran his campaign on reform, fresh eyes and accountability. LASD had been taken down to its knees with corruption, scandal, FBI investigation and an organized crime family of Tanaka henchmen. And what has changed, not much. Yes, I will acknowledge McDonnell is in no way equated as being Baca and Tyler is not a Tanaka, no one has ever attempted to draw those parallels. With that said, what WE ARE ALL ACKNOWLEDGING is McDonnell has retained virtually all of Tanaka’s EPC, Commanders and Captains. The very people who carried Tanaka’s water, stood at the door and collected the money, facilitated Pay for Play and did all the dirty work for the little man. To add insult to injury, not only does he retains them, he promotes them. And now McDonnell is brining in a new wave of Tanaka’s crew, another Chongo Fighter, really?

    The question is, after all this time, does McDonnell have a clue? What is he accomplishing with the actions? Nothing but further alienation of the good people of LASD whose dreams of reform have all but evaporated. Celeste, this is the story. Rothans was an embarrassment to McDonnell and the tip of the iceberg. We hope aggressive journalism and further FBI investigations forces reform, real reform. It’s obvious McDonnell has no intention of taking care of business. The media gave Baca a free pass for over eleven years and look what happened. Please don’t allow that mistake to be repeated.

  • He is not a Deputy so nothing will happen. Sheriff Mcdonnell is a joke. “buckle your seatbelt and drive safe” stop playing. Everyone knows your the sheriff, we don’t need to be reminded. Just do your job and follow through.

  • Wow. What the heck happened??? Rothans turned out to be the wolf in sheep’s clothing. In typical, smooth, smoke and mirrors fashion, Rothans worked his magic like the master illusionist he is– and he had John and Jim reeled in hook, line and sinker. Jim you know a great deal about leadership, what are you waiting for? You’re a very gifted man. Go with your instincts. TA is a good man. NT is well intentioned but played out. I know you know this, but be very weary of the exec staff that sat back and watched the house of cards fall. They’re selfish snakes. Watch out for BG. He’s a costume artist. An absolute, self-centered bully, who has no one fooled but himself. Good luck to you boss. I wish you the best. I hope it works out for you and the Department. Godspeed

  • Before the election the new Sheriff was the only knight who could save the kingdom. After settling in, and getting butt kissed by those who do it best he has become blinded like Baca, and power hungry like others. Sheriff don’t focus on empire building, and legacy establishment. TRUE leaders, lead, the legacy comes out of respect. Baca did not learn this, nor did Mr. T. They focused on themselves. Step back for a minute and see who you have surrounded yourself with. Hint- THE ENTIRE DEPARTMENT can see this. And if this is what you want, that is fine, but IT WON’T WORK. WE KNOW WHO THEY ARE AND WHAT THEY WERE A PART OF. They offer nothing to us, and we are the future. You give a Deputy days off for no seat belt, but an executive can retire at high six figures with no punishment for known policy violations that costs others time off and not being able to promote for five years. You are doing exactly what others did, and what those around you want you to do. Kingdoms, Army’s, face time, all VERY VERY bad things for the department.

  • LATBG: Yes, I was being “sarcastic”. I already have my speech written for her retirement party…..

  • @ #17 gomcdonnell- Am I reading correctly that you posted “TA is a good man” ??? Wow, partner! Don’t let that fake smile fool you. Ask the old timers about how many careers and lives of great deputies were destroyed at the expense of his rise during his heyday. Read your own post and all the rest here. The common theme is nothing has changed only getting worse. “TA” has McD’s ear … and you don’t see the problem here? like I said, don’t let the Cheshire Cat grin suck you in. Do your homework and be careful who you endorse from the snake pit.

  • LATBG and Bandwagon — ganging up on Karen, huh? I don’t know what you guys are talking about — she worked Field Ops! 🙂

    As a deputy, she got her ticket punched at West Hollywood. Did she go 10-15? She primarily worked the desk. As a sergeant, she went to the hot spot in the hills, CVS. Did she oversee any area searches for murder suspects, or ensure her field units were on the patch and coordinating en route to one of the many 211’s that occur there regularly? Hmmm, she was placed in the station DB, so didn’t have much of a chance. As a lieutenant, how about the old Region III’s starship, Norwalk Station. Oops, did repeated 594’s to her POV in the station parking lot cause a transfer to the 4th floor at SHB? Newly promoted Captain Tyler used her primarily to read and review her subordinates’ work, where she perfected her i-dotting and t-crossing bureaucratic skills, bogging down everyone’s work and pissing everybody off.

    Though her field experience is definitely lacking, the real problem is her personality — she’s an oddball. She would walk into the building in the morning, walk past perhaps 20 people, without saying good morning to any of them. Her coworkers and subordinates never knew where she was coming from — they could submit paper to her and she’d rip it up one way the first draft with the subordinate bringing it back a second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth time with her changing things back and forth each time. The only constant in her performance seems that she pissed everybody off with her rigid, anal behavior. Who else would work till 8 or 9 o’clock at night and come in on Saturdays or Sundays? She’s the opposite of what people call a “people person.” Yes, she’s been in management positions as a lieutenant, captain, commander and now a chief, but she’s truly not a leader. Also of concern to me, is why did her career flourish under Baca Tanaka?

    Karen is Neal’s girl, and I can’t imagine anyone other than Neal pushed and recommended her to McDonnell. Thanks Neal!

  • Party: Great. I guess it’s asking too much to for an Executive on the Department to have the requisite skills and experience necessary to pass judgment on Department personnel. Sadly, she is probably not the only Executive on the Department lacking the skills and character necessary for the position. By the way, what does the “Field Ops” tattoo look like?

  • I just Googled Karyn Mannis. Among other things she has a Baccalaureate in Psychology from the University of California (Los Angeles).

    What this means is that in a room with a hundred Deputies she’ll be smarter than 95 of them, at least.

  • Roy – I wasn’t aware of the 594’s at San Dimas when she was a new sergeant, only to 594’s at Norwalk when she was a boot lieutenant.

    Bandwagon – if she has any tattoos, it would be her “FOSS” tattoo, from her days at Field Op Support Services. See the irony here?


    Okay people, I’m starting to edit comments, which is not a good sign. Please stop piling on one person with creepy, semi-slanderous comments. I don’t know the truth of them or lack thereof. That isn’t the point.

    We’re done here.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

    Happy weekend.


  • The Department has been doing this for years nothing new about it. Male or female its all the same. Don’t you remember the Lieutenants promotional list with no written. Check the names on the list. Everything based on an oral interview.

  • Celeste: We will all abide by your wishes. To slander is no ones intent. Witnessla has provided an outlet where none had previously existed. Much of the comments here are based on actual events and circumstances. Under the prior administration, abuse of power and cronyism was rampant. Any deviation was dealt with harshly. Sadly much of the same people who abused that power are still in positions of authority. For this Sheriff McDonnell is getting a failing grade. We all thank you for all your hard work and exposing the abuse we had to endure for so long. Thanks again!


    Bandwagon, thanks for the kind reply. I too believe these discussions serve a real purpose. But this last string of comments about one individual, seemed to be straying away from professional criticism to the personnel.

    Thanks again for your reply.


  • As a very wise man once said: “The LASD way is not about leadership, it’s about avoiding blame and looking good doing it.”

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