(L.A.) Tekle Zigetta, 63, Died at the Ballona Wetlands

Case Number: 2023-10581

Los Angeles County is reporting the death of a 63-year-old Black male that occurred at the Ballona Wetlands.

The coroner’s office has identified the man as Tekle Zigetta.

Manner of Death: Accident

Cause of Death: Drowning

Other Significant Condition: Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease

RIP TEKLE GASHAW ZIGETTA (April 12, 1960 – August 12, 2023)

Formal pronouncement of death was made on Saturday at 10:25 a.m.

The decedent’s forename appears to be Ethiopian or Eritrean.

Zigetta was in the news in 2006 for being in possession of counterfeit $1-billion banknotes. He had been arrested at LAX on charges of failing to declare cash when he was caught trying to sneak $37,000 into the country on his return from South Korea. It was while in custody that he told federal officials about the billion-dollar banknotes being held for him by a couple in West Hollywood.

He pleaded guilty to the charges of failing to declare cash for which he was sentenced to 33 months in prison. He was not charged in connection with the fake notes.

Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve is a protected area that once served as the natural estuary for neighboring Ballona Creek. The 577-acre site is located in Los Angeles County, just south of Marina del Rey. Ballona -— the second-largest open space within the city limits of Los Angeles, behind Griffith Park -— is owned by the state of California and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

There are currently tent encampments at the Ballona Wetlands that homeless people have set up.