The May 17, 2016, online edition of the Los Angeles Times is reporting another case of municipal public corruption. This one is particularly interesting because of who it involved and the duration of the corrupt activities. The article is headlined 7 former top officials of Beaumont charged with corruption.
Beaumont, California, is an upscale town of about 42,000 people. It is about fifteen miles east of Riverside and a mile or so east of the intersection of US 60 and I-10 on the way to Palm Springs. Riverside is the county seat of Riverside County.
The officials accused are all former officials of the city of Beaumont. They include the former City Manager, former Economic Development Director, former Public Works Director, former Planning Director , former Finance Director , former City Attorney, and former Police Chief.
In spite of regular audits of the city’s financial statements, the alleged financial crimes occurred for more than two decades. Those crimes alleged involved the sale of municipal bonds for projects handled by companies in which three of the officials had a financial interest. Prosecutors also alleged officials secured interest-free loans for friends and colleagues with taxpayer money. There are more details in the Times newspaper article.
While public corruption crimes of this duration and scale are usually brought in federal court by federal agencies, this case was investigated by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Team. It will likely be prosecuted in state court by the Riverside County District Attorney.
OpenCdA’s post on December 1, 2015, titled Another Conviction for Corruption (Somewhere Else) reported the conviction of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) on federal corruption charges.
Today, May 3, 2016, Preet Bharara (D), the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that Silver was sentenced to 12 years in federal prision by US District Judge Valerie E. Caproni. US Attorney Bharara’s formal announcement contains a good explanation of the crimes proven against Silver. It also describes the schemes and mechanisms Silver used to sell his elected position in the New York State Legislature and thereby personally enrich himself.
We had to give Silver’s defense attorneys an “E” for Effort in invoking the unofficial and undocumented Idaho Standard frequently used by prosecutors as an excuse to not charge or to plead down sentences: “Mr. Silver has demonstrated a capacity to do a tremendous amount of good for the public. His personality, vision, and persistence have been brought to bear with great effect. It is doubtful this Court will ever sentence a defendant with as rich a record of doing so much for others.” (see this Washington Post article).
Boy, were Silver’s defense attorneys ever wrong.
Public officials often rely on the advice of either their own or their governing body’s legal counsel, often assuming that reliance somehow makes them immune from the law and the court. We remind those officials of what Silver learned today: Every federal prisoner sitting (or soon to be sitting) in a federal prison was represented and advised by legal counsel.
Hi-yo, Silver! Away!
OpenCdA thinks that website Chuckleberriesonline.com deserves a round of public applause for its recent series of posts about Kootenai County Commissioner David Stewart.
The applause is not only for the leg work Chester and his able associates did in obtaining and analyzing public records about Commissioner Stewart’s questionable permitting of his pole barn/house.
It is also for being able to light a fire under the Coeur d’Alene Press and forcing it to do its job in the public interest for a change. The article in Friday’s skews paper headlined Commissioner faces permit violation was pretty clearly prompted by Chuckleberriesonline’s groundwork. Sadly, The Spokesman-Review apparently lacks the will to try some actual news reporting in Idaho again.
It’s fair for the public to wonder if there is sufficient evidence to support criminal investigation and prosecution for the apparent deception. Hopefully the Idaho Attorney General will be asked to exercise his authority under Idaho Code § 31-2002 and make that determination.
Regardless of the state’s action or inaction, we think Chuckleberriesonline.com deserves to take a bow!
Our post entitled Late to the Party on October 27, 2015, pointed out that even back then, Coeur d’Alene Press Publisher Jim Thompson (left in photo) and Editor Mike Patrick were waaaaay late to the urban renewal agency examination party.
Well, again today Frick and Frack demonstrated their remarkable ability to editorialize in arrears. This morning’s editorial was headlined You can’t blame ’em for asking.
The editorial finally and we suspect begrudgingly acknowledged that for years Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency, ignite cda (née Lake City Development Corporation), had been engaging in “… the practice of lining friendly pockets under the guise of resurrecting worn-down parts of town.”
Honest and diligent citizens like Mary Souza, Dan Gookin, Kathy Sims, Sharon Culbreth, Frank Orzell, and others have been delivering the evidence of that practice for years. The Press chose not to investigate and then report it as news.
But today’s editorial contained a real whopper. (more…)
The views and skews media blatherskites are hyperventilating at the suggestion the US Department of Justice might indict former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for mishandling of national security information or influence peddling. “How would that affect her presidential campaign?” they worry.
OpenCdA doesn’t know if she will be indicted.
Our uncertainty has nothing to do with US Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s political loyalties or with President Obama’s prejudicial comments made during his 60 Minutes television interview on October 11, 2015.
Prosecutors from the US Attorney General down the prosecutorial food chain to the most incompetent and politically comprimised county prosecutors in Idaho are given great latitude to decide which cases will be prosecuted and which ones will be declined for good reasons, bad reasons, politically expedient reasons, or no reason at all.
Our concern is that when Hillary Clinton used unsecured email systems and her own private server to exchange and store national security information, she knowingly and wilfully exposed that information to exploitation by all enemies foreign and domestic who will use that information harm to our nation.
That damage has been done. It will not be corrected even by criminal prosecution, conviction, and lifetime incarceration for Hillary Clinton.
If there is any value in criminally prosecuting and convicting Hillary Clinton, it is in ensuring she would never again be in any position of public trust and never again have access to national security information. It is in ensuring she would never again be able to barter information which, in the wrong hands, places at grave risk the lives of American citizens and foreign nationals working on our behalf. (more…)
Eileen M. Decker, US Attorney for the Central District of California, announced that retired Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca pleaded guilty today in federal court to two counts of lying to federal agents investigating allegations of abusive treatment and corruption by deputy sheriffs in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
Baca acknowledged lying about his office’s efforts to hide an LA County jail inmate from the FBI. The plan to hide the inmate, an FBI confidential source, was named Operation Pandora’s Box.
Several of Baca’s former command staff are scheduled to be tried in federal court on related charges.
Addendum on 02-13-2016: Recordings reveal the lies former LA sheriff told prosecutor
What would happen if the FBI swooped into a town and arrested the mayor, the city attorney, and all but one member of the city council?
That’s the question Crystal City, Texas, city councilman Joel Barajas is going to have to answer. He’s the one man left on the city council after the FBI arrested the city’s mayor, mayor pro tem, the city attorney, and the rest of the council on corruption or human smuggling charges.
Here’s a link to the Washington Post article headlined FBI arrests nearly all of the top officials of Crystal City, Tex. The information about the city attorney has a Bell-like ring to it.
However, the federal indictment does have some useful information for other cities whose officials may be corruptly inclined. This is a very plain-language indictment. One need not be an attorney to understand the federal jurisdiction, the object of the conspiracy, or the crimes alleged.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Comments Off on One Honest Man Left Standing …
Back in January 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concluded a lengthy public corruption investigation with the arrest of New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Information about his corruption and his betrayal of those who elected him were in this press release issued on January 22, 2015, by Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The slimy, grimy details of how Sheldon Silver, this purportedly highly respected pillar of the community, abused his elected position and profited by exploiting it are in the 35-page complaint on January 21, 2015, seeking a warrant for his arrest.
Yesterday, US Attorney Preet Bharara issued another statement, this one announcing the conviction of the aforementioned slimeball on all corruption charges. Bharara’s press release was elegant in its one-sentence simplicity.
The New York Times article about Silver’s conviction had more information, but it added little to Bharara’s comment.
It seems to us that Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara gets New York’s corrupt public officials convicted because he and the FBI’s investigators look for it, and Bharara doesn’t dismiss evidence of it as “miscommunications“. Thanks to their dedication and professional persistence, “Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York.” (more…)
“Fraudulent steering” has nothing to do with automobile recalls.
It has everything to do with a dishonest Chicago Public Schools (CPS) official, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was the putative decision-maker in deciding which two education consulting companies would get a $23 million no-bid contract to provide consulting services to CPS.
One of Babs’ criteria for fraudulently steering the contract to the companies was evidently how much they would be willing to kick back to her in return. The kickback netted her a cool $2.3 million.
And now the FBI is looking closely at what Babs did as the Chief Accountability Officer in the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) before she went CPS. The allegation filed in federal court is that she fraudulently steered a DPS textbook contract worth $40 million to a publishing house, Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, where she had formerly worked.
For an interesting take on Babs’ bribery, see the article headlined Blaming Byrd-Bennett won’t end CPS corruption in The Depaulia, the student newspaper of DePaul University.
Contracts do get steered to preferred vendors and suppliers. A red flag the size of a large empty hole in the ground should start waving when a contract is worth a lot of money and is awarded to a sole-source without honest competitive bidding. It’s a form of bid-rigging.
Fortunately, it only happens in Chicago or Detroit or Atlanta or … But it could never happen in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
OpenCdA has received word that northern Idaho’s Port of Hope, Inc., currently in Coeur d’Alene, has applied for a special use permit to establish a federal residential re-entry center in Post Falls. We believe this will result in the closure of the Coeur d’Alene facility which has been in operation since 1998.
OpenCdA fully understands the Port of Hope’s apparent desire to leave Coeur d’Alene. The shameful efforts by members of the City of Coeur d’Alene Planning Commission with help from employees of School District 271 to run Port of Hope out of town in 2013 were documented in this series of OpenCdA posts. Thankfully, the Coeur d’Alene City Council resoundingly rejected those efforts in its meeting on October 1, 2013.
We hope that the members of the Post Falls Planning & Zoning Commission will look at our posts linked above. These posts revealed how hysteria and deception can drive a completely unsupported decision in a planning commission hearing. Our hope is that however the Post Falls Planning & Zoning Commission rules on Port of Hope’s application, the Commissioners’ votes will be based entirely on their objective evaluation of the relevant evidence presented during the hearing.