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Ex-Assemblyman arrested in bank fraud investigation

City News Service | 9/19/2012, 5 p.m.

A former assemblyman who now works for the Los Angeles County Probation Department was arrested Tuesday on federal charges for allegedly falsely claiming to have lost thousands of dollars as an identity theft victim.

Carl Washington, 47, of Los Angeles is charged with three counts each of bank fraud and making a false statement to a federally insured financial institution, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Each count carries a potential maximum of 30 years in federal prison.

According to an indictment filed last week in Los Angeles federal court, Washington masterminded a four-year scheme in which he obtained credit cards and loans from banks and credit unions, racking up thousands of dollars in charges for airline tickets, hotels, restaurants, rental cars and cash advances.

He then allegedly filed a police report, claiming to be the victim of identity theft and reporting that the credit cards and loans had been opened by someone unknown to him.

The indictment alleges that Washington subsequently filed a copy of the bogus police report with Experian, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, in order to have the charges and past due amounts removed from his credit report.

Once Experian removed the charges, Washington applied for new credit cards without disclosing his outstanding debts or the fact that he had charges and unpaid balances removed from his credit report, according to federal prosecutors.

When new credit cards were issued, Washington again ran up debts worth another couple of thousand dollars and filed yet another police report, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Washington, who allegedly operated the scheme from February 2007 to August 2011, is the Probation Department's director for intergovernmental relations and legislative affairs.

A Democrat from Compton who represented Paramount, Washington began his service in the state Legislature in 1996, and was active in fighting street gangs. He was termed out in 2002 and lost a race for a Los Angeles City Council seat to Jan Perry.

Prior to his legislative service, he served on the staff of former Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke.

Washington's arrest was part of a yearlong probe of alleged misconduct among Probation Department employees that has resulted in dozens of arrests, Probation Department Chief Jerry Powers said.

"These recent arrests should serve as a clear message that this chief--and this probation department--will not tolerate criminal behavior by staff," he said. "This is a law-enforcement agency, and as such we will hold ourselves to a higher standard both on and off duty."