Irwindale Leaders Charged With Misusing Public Funds

IRWINDALE (AP) — Four current and former officials of this small Southern California city were charged Wednesday with spending $14,000 of taxpayers’ money on baseball games and Broadway shows when they were supposed to be working to improve Irwindale’s bond rating.

4 Current and Former Irwindale Leaders Accused Of Misusing Funds, KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore reports.

The charges are the latest in a string of corruption allegations directed at leaders of several nondescript suburbs ringing Los Angeles. Other small cities whose officials have been charged with corruption include Bell, Vernon and Temple City.

In Irwindale, Councilman Mark Breceda, Finance Director Abe De Dios, retired City Manager Steve Blancarte and former Councilwoman Rosemary Ramirez were charged with misappropriation of public funds.

During trips to New York between 2001 and 2005, prosecutors say the four attended such hit musicals as “The Producers,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Mamma Mia,” sticking the city with the cost of tickets. They also attended New York Yankees and Mets baseball games on the public dime, according to Deputy District Attorney Nipa Cook.

Three of the four were to be arraigned Wednesday. De Dios, who is out of town, was to be arraigned Thursday. Prosecutors said they didn’t know if any of the officials had retained attorneys.

Irwindale’s interim city manager, Sol Benudiz, issued a statement saying the city was cooperating with the district attorney’s office and did not expect the arrests to disrupt any services.

“Beyond that, it would be inappropriate to comment on the investigation and criminal charges,” he said.

Irwindale, a city of about 1,400 residents 20 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, has been known for a costly failed bid in the 1980s to attract the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. The largely industrial city, which had hoped to build a stadium on the site of a sprawling hole in the ground that had been a rock quarry, lost a $10 million deposit when the team decided not to move there.

Other cities facing corruption charges include Bell, a working-class suburb of about 40,000 people where eight current and former officials are charged with misappropriating $5.5 million in public funds, much of which authorities say went to fund inflated salaries.

In Vernon, an industrial town of about 100 residents, the city’s former administrative officer was charged last week with conflict of interest after prosecutors said he obtained city jobs for his wife that paid her $140,000.

In Temple City, the former mayor was sentenced to 16 months in prison in September after pleading no contest to bribery and other charges.

Temple City, with 38,000 residents, is about 10 miles east of Los Angeles.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • ginny25

    What City doesn’t have so called officials doing the same thing. Look at Mayor Tony and all of his games. No one will ever convince me he isn’t doing the samething. They’re just too afraid to go after him.

  • critic

    I dont expect them to get no more than a finger waiving from County attorney,
    they should be put in jail by their own revenue generating police dept that Imposes fines all over Irwindale, have them pay the same way they cheat everyone else out of our earned money by impossing bogus fines.

  • Bill Jones

    This is the kind of corruption you see in Mexico and these people have Mexican last names? Coincidence…

  • Oscar

    Here we go wit the racist coments!!!!! Grow up redneck!

  • Tony Villar

    Irwindale, Vernon, Bell, Compton
    How many others ?
    Well Viagra- boso went to events too!

  • Voice of Reason

    Bill, some of the most corrupt thieves in history are white men or have you forgotten the Enron scandal? The housing crisis and the bad economy is all because of corrupt white business men and politicians. I know you are not trying to make whites appear as if they wouldn’t do such things. From the beginning of time, white men have been stealing whatever their grimy little hands can get their hands on.

  • Voice of Reason

    By the way, BILL, none of those last names are Mexican, they are spanish and could be from many parts of South America or even Spain. Don’t be an idiot and make your people appear dumber than the world know they are.

  • Dave

    @ bill jones.bill should be deported back to Mexico

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