A man who worked as an investigator for the County of Los Angeles Department of Medical Examiner has been charged with two counts of theft for allegedly removing a gold crucifix necklace from a dead man’s neck and keeping rare coins that were apparently linked to another man who was found dead, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Adrian Munoz, 34, of Los Angeles, is charged with one felony count of grand theft of property and one misdemeanor count of petty theft of property, according to the DA’s office.
Surveillance video showed Munoz removing a gold crucifix necklace from the neck of a warehouse worker who died Jan. 6 of a heart attack at his job in South Los Angeles and placing it in his medical bag, according to the DA’s office, which alleges that Munoz did not return the necklace or document it in the property receipt.
Investigators who searched Munoz’s desk cubicle found rare antique coins with a receipt in the name of a man who had been discovered dead last November, the DA’s office said.
Munoz, who had worked for the medical examiner’s office since 2018, had handled that man’s death investigation, according to the DA’s office said.
In a statement, District Attorney George Gascón said an investigator with the medical examiner’s office “holds a position of immense trust and responsibility.”
“Their role is not just to unravel the case of death or help solve potential crimes, but also to provide closure and peace to grieving family members,” Gascón said. “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. It’s a profound betrayal of the very essence of the role and the solemn duty owed to both the deceased and their bereaved families.”
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Odey Ukpo said in the statement that his office “takes these allegations very seriously and is assisting law enforcement and the D.A.’s Office in the ongoing investigation.”
Munoz is currently on leave pending completion of the investigation, the medical examiner’s office said.
No arraignment date has been set yet for Munoz.
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