LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The mayor for the city of Palmdale pleaded not guilty Wednesday to receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars illegally from local consultants and failing to disclose the income for several years.
Jim Ledford pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles County Superior Court to five felony counts for allegedly illegally receiving more than $60,000 a year from local consultants and failing to publicly disclose the income on economic disclosure statements, along with a misdemeanor count of using an official position for personal gain.READ MORE: Drive-thru Food Giveaway Helps Hundreds Of Families In Costa Mesa
Charged along with Ledford are Kimberly Anne Shaw, 62, who had been a consultant for the city of Palmdale for two decades, and Susan Burgess Miller, 70.
Shaw and Miller are charged with one felony count each of conspiracy, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds. Shaw is also charged with four felony counts of filing a false tax return.
All three are free on $75,000 bond.
Ledford, 65, was elected to his 13th term as Palmdale’s mayor in November 2016. With no term limits, he has served for 26 years.
Authorities raided Ledford’s home and office in May 2017. He was charged in June 2017.READ MORE: Pine Fire Near Palmdale Scorches 442 Acres, 79% Contained
Between Aug. 1, 2009, and May 3, 2017, Ledford received about $5,200 a month from several shell companies that were set up by Shaw and Miller, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office reports.
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.
Superior Court Judge Gustavo Sztraicher set an Oct. 3 hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to require Ledford to stand trial.MORE NEWS: $25 Million Challenge Grant Made For Wildlife Crossing In Agoura Hills
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