Los Angeles councilman accused of embezzlement could be suspended

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The president of the Los Angeles City Council said he would file a motion Wednesday to suspend a city councilman charged with embezzlement, perjury and other crimes in the latest scandal among city leaders. second largest city in the country.

Council Chairman Paul Krekorian said he was shocked by the criminal complaint against Curren Price Jr., whom he called a “friend and colleague”, while stressing that the presumption of innocence is a fundamental tenet of the legal system.

Price, who has served on the board for a decade, faces five counts of embezzlement of public funds, three counts of perjury and two counts of conflict of interest, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

In a letter to Krekorian, Price said he was stepping down from committee duties and leadership responsibilities “while I navigate the court system defending my name.”

The Los Angeles government has been rocked by a series of scandals.

In March, former Democratic alderman Mark Ridley-Thomas — a former lawmaker, county supervisor and a staple of local politics for decades — was found guilty in federal court of seven crimes, including conspiracy, bribery and fraud. .

After an FBI investigation, two other former board members, Mitch Englander and Jose Huizar, pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges in recent years.

Last year, a racist scandal that shattered public trust in the Los Angeles government prompted the resignations in October of then city council president Nury Martinez and a powerful labor leader, Ron Herrera. .

In the new case, Price is accused of having a financial interest in projects he voted on as a council member and of having the city pay nearly $34,000 in medical benefits for his now-wife. that he was still married to another woman, the district attorney. George Gascón said in a statement.

Between 2019 and 2021, Price’s wife reportedly received payments totaling more than $150,000 from developers before Price voted to approve the projects, according to Gascón. Price is also accused of not disclosing the money his wife received on government forms.

The criminal complaint says a consulting firm run by Price’s wife received a series of payments from companies incorporated or co-owned by Thomas Safran & Associates, GTM Holdings/Works and GTM Holdings, before Price voted for approving corporate project funding. Emails seeking comment from these entities were not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

Price’s attorney, David Willingham, declined to comment on Tuesday, saying he had not seen a copy of the criminal complaint.

Krekorian is committed to undertaking an orderly process that will include input from Price District on how to proceed. He said the suspension motion would initially be referred to the board’s rules committee.

“It will not be a process that will be rushed as has happened in the past, as it is important that the board has the opportunity to discuss and debate all the issues surrounding it,” Krekorian said.

Price was first elected to the council in 2013. His district includes South Los Angeles and parts of downtown. His term is due to expire in 2026.


Associated Press writer John Antczak contributed to this report.

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