California ‘Corruption Corridor’ Reports New Case


In summary

Southern California’s “corruption corridor” has sparked yet another insider trading case – neither the first nor the last.

Six years ago, the HBO network aired an episode of “True Detective”, an anthology of complicated crime stories.

It was set in the fictional city of Vinci, in Southern California, a cesspool of corruption and crime evidently based on Vernon, once described as “California’s most corrupt five square miles.”

As well as fictionalizing Vernon’s sordid story, the episode fell back into the California bullet train project, but it was rightly called inconsistent by critics.

Vernon, unfortunately, is not an isolated example. The southeast quadrant of Los Angeles County is plagued by municipal malfeasance and has previously been called a “corridor of corruption” by State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. Many local officials have been charged with bribery, self-operation and other transgressions.

Last week, the Los Angeles County District Attorney charged four men, including former State Senator Frank Hill, with stealing $ 20 million that the city of industry advanced to a company called San Gabriel Valley Water and Power LLC for a solar power project that never came to fruition. .

The case stems from a battle between several towns for control of a 2,500-acre cattle ranch called Tres Hermanos in the Chino Hills, which was to be the site of the project.

Hill, a Republican who was trapped in a federal Capitol corruption investigation three decades ago and spent four years in prison, was a consultant on the project. William Barkett, owner of San Gabriel Valley Water and Power, lawyer Anthony Bouza and former city manager of industry Paul Philips, now city manager of Bell, the scene of another corruption scandal ten years ago years, also face charges.

Philips and Bouza are said to have managed the funds, which between 2016 and 2018 were channeled to an account controlled by Barkett, according to the public prosecutor’s office.

“While some of the money went to other vendors, Barkett is accused of spending around $ 8.3 million on personal items. He also allegedly falsified or altered invoices to inflate the amount.” , said the prosecutor’s office.

Barkett is no stranger to questionable financial transactions. As I wrote about the Tres Hermanos feud nine months ago: “In 1993, federal authorities unveiled an indictment against him and eight others involved in what has been described as a ploy. of penny stock aimed at defrauding elderly retirees.

“Two years later, the charges were dismissed by a judge, who cited unreasonable delays before trial by prosecutors. A decade later, Credit Suisse, an international banking company, accused Barkett of embezzling millions of dollars he had borrowed to start a large farm in the San Joaquin Valley. The lawsuit was later dropped after a confidential settlement. “

Barkett is the descendant of a politically powerful Stockton family and in the interest of full disclosure the head of the family sued me and the Sacramento Union for libel four decades ago after i wrote a column about his influence. We were exonerated by a San Joaquin County jury.

The Cité de l’Industrie is also no stranger to allegations of corruption. In 2009, the Los Angeles Times polled the city’s island structure, revealing, as it noted last week, that “for years the city government has been headed by former Mayor Dave Perez, which owned waste transportation and maintenance companies that accumulated millions of dollars. one year in contracts with the city… ”

“An audit years later by KPMG found that Perez’s businesses had made their fortunes with the city, with contracts valued at more than $ 326 million,” the Times reported.

Once again, the Corruption Corridor gives rise to an insider trading case, but it is not the first and it will not be the last. The surface of the hallway has barely been scratched.

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