RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) – Seven former Beaumont city officials were charged Tuesday in connection with a corruption case in which millions of dollars were allegedly taken from the city through fraudulently awarded contracts, interest-free loans to local police officers and other misappropriations of city funds, according to the Riverside District Attorney’s office.
The total amount of money taken in the case is alleged to be $42,967,421.90.READ MORE: South LA Residents Impacted By June 30th Botched Fireworks Explosion Still Dealing With Fallout
The plot goes back to the early 1990s, when the city hired three principals from the firm Urban Logic Consultants — David Dillon, Ernest Egger and Deepak Moorjani — to serve as its heads of planning, economic development and public works, District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in an announcement of the charges.
Around that time, Alan Kapanicas was brought in as city manager, William Aylward was hired as the city’s finance director and Joseph Akulfi was hired as city attorney. Those three were also charged for allegedly mishandling city money.
The defendants are accused of using their positions as Beaumont city officials to funnel work to Urban Logic. Dillon, Egger, and Moorjani are also accused of advising the city to issue new bonds while making payments to their company out of the money generated from those bond sales.
The corruption continued more than a decade later, as the defendants failed to give money collected as a fee on new development to the Western Riverside Council of Governments, as is required by a 2003 city law, Hestrin said. Instead, they are accused of using that money on projects in Beaumont and awarding the work to their own companies.
In the process, the defendants manipulated documents and made misrepresentations to WRCOG in order to illegally hold onto $36,606,190 in new development fees, Hestrin said.READ MORE: 'Ankle Biter' Mosquito Population On The Rise In Orange County
Dillon, Egger, Moorjani, Kapanicas, Aylward, and Aklufi are charged with multiple counts of embezzlement of public funds by a public officer, as well as an aggravated white collar crime enhancement and an enhancement for excessive loss and other infractions.
From 2010 to 2013, Kapanicas, Aylward, and Francis Coe, who was the Beaumont Police Chief at that time, also loaned then-Chief Coe $45,000 of city money, interest free, according to the DA’s office. In total, the defendants loaned $113,773 of city money — interest free — to members of the Beaumont Police Department. The defendants never asked the Beaumont City Council for approval of these interest-free loans, Hestrin said.
Kapanicas, Aylward, and Coe are charged with conspiracy and misappropriation of public funds for lending the public’s money in a manner not authorized by law.
From 2009 to 2015, Kapanicas and Aylward are also accused of lending interest-free to a company called Beaumont Electric. The defendants never asked the Beaumont City Council for approval before loaning a total of $6,247,458.86 of city money to the company. Kapanicas and Aylward are charged with conspiracy and misappropriation of public fund, for misusing the public’s money, according to the DA’s office.
The charges follow an operation in April of last year, when local and federal agents seized computers and documents from the Beaumont Civic Center.MORE NEWS: Water Main Break Closes Part Of La Cienega Boulevard In West Hollywood
If convicted as currently charged, the seven would be barred from ever holding public office and each face the following potential maximum sentences: Kapanicas and Aylward, 26 years in prison; Dillon, Egger, and Moorjani, 16 years in prison; Aklufi, 15 years and four months in prison; and Coe, five years in prison.