Friday, April 13

When to Avoid Swing Advice From a Jewelry Thief

TAKING SWING ADVICE IS ALWAYS RISKY. Even so, I can almost fathom accepting a few swing pointers from a convicted jewelry thief. After all, Frank Carrillo was a former pro golfer who had played events on the Canadian Tour before he turned to crime and landed in jail to serve a two-year sentence.

Yet, as much as I’m in favor of helpful golf instruction from anyone, it was not one of Jeff Donahue’s better ideas. You see, Donahue is a captain with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Captain Donahue took Carrillo to a hilltop golf course on Catalina Island after the inmate suggested he could help the officer with his golf game.

“I knew it was a crazy thing to say,” Carrillo told the Associated Press. “But the first thing he said was, `Maybe I need a few pointers.’”

(I can understand the captain’s dilemma. The urgent need to lower a mid-teens handicap could certainly disrupt normal prisoner protocol.)

In Captain Donahue’s defense, some of the other deputies didn’t think it was that big a deal. The ex golf pro who had been convicted for stealing cash and jewelry, including a World Series ring, had been transferred to Catalina Island from the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles because of good behavior. (“It was like camp,” he said about Catalina.) One deputy claimed that a sheriff approved the golf outing. A sheriff’s department spokesman disputed that claim.

Now Captain Donahue, who heads the Catalina police force, is on medical leave. And his golf swing?

“[It’s] old school and risky,” said Carrillo, who wore his yellow jail jumpsuit to the golf course, “but he hits it every time.”

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