Irwindale Embezzlers heading back to court
Posted in the Rowland Heights Forum
#1 Aug 7, 2014
Irwindale Embezzlers are heading back to court tomorrow. Its been over three and a half years since their arrest and they have not been arraigned yet.
#2 Aug 8, 2014
LOS ANGELES>> The arraignment of three current and former Irwindale city officials accused of public corruption was postponed Friday at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.
It has been nearly one year since the Los Angeles County District Attorneys Office re-filed charges against Mayor Mark Breceda, City Councilman Manuel Garcia and former City Councilwoman Rosemary Ramirez.
The trio face embezzlement, conflict of interest and misappropriation of public funds charges related to lavish trips the officials took to New York City between 2001 and 2005. This news organization reported in 2007 the group spent more than $200,000 of taxpayer funds on expensive hotels and restaurants, Broadway shows, limousine services and New York Yankees games.
The trips were taken in effort to increase the citys bond rating.
Arraignment has continued to be postponed while the defendants attorneys have argued the statute of limitations has expired on the conflict of interest and misappropriation of public funds charges. Embezzlement has no statute of limitations.
In April, Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan granted Falangettis request to review a decision made by Judge Roberto Longoria in December. Longoria ruled prosecutors presented sufficient evidence to arraign the officials on all of the charges.
Ryan wrote Longoria can allow prosecutors to amend the complaint against the officials or back up his original ruling.
The D.A.s office has filed an appeal.
In early April, a fourth defendant in the case, retired Finance Director Abraham Abe De Dios, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor conflict of interest. He was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation and was ordered to pay about $9,000 in restitution to the city of Irwindale and court fees.
Prosecutors initially filed charges against the officials in October 2010. While that matter was pending, the District Attorneys office filed a superseding grand jury indictment, which an appellate court eventually dismissed finding prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence.
Prosecutors allege Breceda, Garcia and Ramirez received $75 daily meal allowance per diem payments during the trips even though third-party bond underwriters picked up the tab for the expenses. The underwriters then charged the city for the payments.
According to the felony complaint re-filed in August, prosecutors said the alleged wrongdoing was not discovered until October 2007 when the D.A.s office received an anonymous letter coupled with an article from this news organization detailing the trips. Falangetti argued the statute of limitations began as soon as Irwindales city manager at the time, Robert Griego, discovered the potential crimes.
The defendants, who have been released on their own recognizance, will be back in court Sept. 18.
#3 Aug 8, 2014
Former councilwoman Rosemary Ramirez is among four city officials charged with misappropriation of public funds after they allegedly attended Broadway shows and baseball games during trips to New York to get a better bond rating for the city, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said.
Expenses also included $31,055 in car services, which does not include taxi trips. Other costs covered were bottles of wine at $250 and $125, glasses of Crown Royal at $13 each, and a $170 tab at the Belmont Bar and Restaurant paid for at 11:55 p.m.
Former Councilwoman Rosemary Gutierrez, who attended one of the trips, said New York is an expensive city to visit and do business.
"It's not like we were meeting in Irwindale or in the state of California," she said. "It was New York."
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