LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – Longtime Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford was charged Wednesday with illegally accepting thousands of dollars annually from two local consultants and failing to publicly disclose the income on economic disclosure statements over a period of nearly eight years.
Between Aug. 1, 2009, and May 3, 2017, Ledford received about $5,200 a month from several shell companies that were set up by two other defendants in the case, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office reports. Ledford accepted about $60,000 a year illegally, the DA said.
Ledford — who was elected to his 13th two-year term as Palmdale’s mayor last November — was expected to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on one felony count each of conspiracy and conflict of interest and three counts of perjury.
Ledford’s home and office were raided last month. With no term limits in Palmdale, Ledford has been able to serve for 25 years.
“I think there’s been some transparency issues with the way things have been run around here – where’s money going for projects, how the budget’s being spent and just overall transparency about how our city is being ran,” Palmdale City Councilor Austin Bishop told CBS2 in May following the raid.
Co-defendants Kimberly Anne Shaw, 61, of Yorba Linda and Susan Burgess Miller, 68, of Las Vegas, are charged with one count each of conspiracy, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds. It was unclear when they would be arraigned.
Shaw has been a consultant for the city of Palmdale for the past two decades, and with Miller’s assistance, operates the AERO Institute, which gets more than $2 million annually from NASA and has paid a $1 annual lease to Palmdale since 2004, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Miller ran a company, Complex Culture Change Consulting, and hired Ledford in 2009, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
AERO Institute paid Miller’s consulting firm more than $13,000 a month over a four-year period, and the company, in turn, allegedly paid Ledford $5,300 a month. Prosecutors allege that Ledford did not perform any substantive work for AERO Institute during that time period.
Ledford allegedly failed to reveal that he was indirectly receiving income from AERO Institute when the Palmdale City Council voted in January 2012 to boost Shaw’s consultant contract to an amount not to exceed $3.9 million over seven years.
Ledford, 63, is also accused of failing to report the income he received from AERO Institute on economic disclosure statements in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
If convicted as charged, Ledford could face up to four years and eight months in state prison and Shaw and Miller could each face up to four years behind bars, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)