Irwindale Officials Accused of Misspending $200k in NYC Appear in Court
Two current and two former city officials from largely industrial Irwindale were slated to appear in court Wednesday to face charges that they misspent nearly $200,000 in public funds on lavish trips to New York City.
During multiple trips between 2001 and 2005, they allegedly dined at fine restaurants, stayed at fancy hotels and attended Broadway musicals, all on the taxpayer dime, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said when announcing the charges in August.
The officials’ stated goal was to improve the bond rating for the San Gabriel Valley city, which is dominated by rock quarries and has about 1,400 residents, according to the 2010 census.
Councilmen Mark Breceda and Manuel Garcia, former councilwoman Rosemary Ramirez and retired Finance Director Abe De Dios each are charged with misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement and conflict of interest, the DA’s office said.
They were scheduled to appear Wednesday for their arraignment at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.
In April, a panel of federal appellate judge had thrown out similar charges made in 2010 against the Irwindale officials because prosecutors had failed to present evidence that was favorable to the suspects, according to the Los Angeles Times. The case was re-filed in August, the newspaper reported.
The officials went to New York City on multiple trips that lasted up to six days at a time, the DA’s office said.
During each trip, they spent thousands of dollars attending events “that had nothing to do with city business,” the DA’s office stated in August.
In 2005, the group stayed at the luxury Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Central Park and saw “Wicked,” “Mamma Mia,” and Mets and Yankees games, according to the DA’s office.
They spent $12,000 in limousine services during that trip, prosecutors alleged.
The DA’s office announced charges Aug. 14.
Breceda and De Dios were charged with five counts each of misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement and conflict of interest.
Ramirez was charged with two counts each of misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement and conflict of interest.
Garcia was charged with one count each of misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement and conflict of interest.