Candidate forum for South El Monte mayoral special election planned Tuesday

SOUTH EL MONTE >> The League of Women Voters of the East San Gabriel Valley is planning a candidate’s forum Tuesday with the two candidates vying to replace former South El Monte mayor Luis Aguinaga, who resigned and pleaded guilty in a federal bribery case last year.
The forum will be held at 7 p.m. at the South El Monte Senior Services Center, 1556 Central Ave., organizers said.
The two candidates on the March 7 special election will be Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Olmos and City Councilman Joseph Gonzales.
Former City Councilman Raul Pardo will not appear on the ballot, as the required signatures were not approved by the city, but will be running as a write-in candidate.
They are competing to replace Aguinaga, who resigned in August, a month before he pleaded guilty to accepting at least $45,000 in bribes from a contractor over the course of seven years.
Aguinaga faces up to 10 years in federal prison at his scheduled sentencing on March 2.
For more information on the candidate forum, the League of Women Voters of the San Gabriel Valley can be reached at 626-967-8055.

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Ex-border protection officer from Pico Rivera sentenced for immigration bribery scheme

LOS ANGELES >> A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer, who also ran an immigration consulting service, received a sentence of more than three years in federal prison late Thursday for his role in immigration bribery scheme, officials said.
George Wu, 63, was convicted in August of conspiracy to bribe a public officials and five counts of bribing a public official following a week-long trial.
At his sentencing Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles, U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald handed down a sentence of 37 months behind bars, U.S. DOJ spokeswoman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
He faced a maximum penalty of up to 80 years in prison.
“This defendant attempted to corrupt our nation’s immigration system by offering bribes in exchange for benefits. It is critical to our national security that our nation’s immigration system functions properly and free from corruption such as this defendant’s,” Central District of California U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said.
Wu worked as a CBP officer until 2012, then started an immigration consulting business called Great Eastern immigration Services, authorities said.
Wu and co-defendants paid tens of thousands of dollars in bribes, which they solicited from at least seven clients, to immigration officials top help secure citizenship and permanent legal status through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Mrozek said.
In one case, a client of Wu’s, “was allowed to pass an English proficiency exam even though she could not speak English,” he said.
Co-conspirator Michael Bui, who ran another immigration consultation firm, has already been convicted of conspiracy and bribery in connection with the case and sentenced to one year and one day in prison, officials said.
Eleven defendants in all are named in the case, and seven of them have already been convicted, Mrozek said. They include an attorney who paid bribes to a senior USCIS officials and arranging “sham marriages”; an ex U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent who lied to federal investigators about accessing immigration filed and providing the information to an immigration attorney; and a former USCIS officials who accepted an “illegal gratuity” from an immigration attorney after helping an immigrant gain legal permanent residence, officials said.

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Corruption case wiretap details sex, drugs and other scams in tiny town of Cudahy

I like to call the region surrounding the 710 Freeway “The Corruption Corridor.”

Towns in the region include Montebello, Bell, Southgate, Mayhwood, Huntington Park, Bell Gardens and Vernon.
Then there’s tiny Cudahy. Never been there? Well that’s probably because you weren’t looking for  prostitutes, marijuana or trying to scam customer of your tow company.
The FBI on Friday announced a corruption probe into three member of the Cudahy City Council. All were accused of taking bribes in exchange for approving the establishment of a Medical marijuana dispensary. A lot of the dirt is in a affidavit filed in support of the case. Take a look.  Here’s a link. It’s great reading and a fascinating window into public corruption in Los Angeles County:
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UPDATED: Former Covina police records clerk sentenced for embezzlement

WEST COVINA — A former Covina Police Department civilian records clerk was sentenced to 2 years and 8 month in prison Wednesday, and ordered to repay nearly $310,000 she stole from the city.
Family members cried as Louise Vance-Wasilchin, also known as Mary Wasilchin, 58, of Upland was placed into handcuffs and escorted from a courtroom after receiving her sentence from West Covina Superior Court Commissioner Harold Mulville.
She was pleaded guilty to hiding a report of her son-in-law’s May, 2008 drunken driving arrest, preventing his prosecution, officials said. The son-in-law was not suspected of having knowledge of the impropriety.
Covina Police Chief Kim Raney said the process has been a difficult one for all involved.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Raney said.
“It is my hope that she serves every day of the 2-year 8-month prison sentence,” the chief said.
Under the plea agreement, Wasilchin was to serve her sentence in prison and not be eligible to serve it in county jail under the state’s prison re-alignment program.
“I’ll be a little disappointed if she gets out early,” Raney said.
Wasilchin’s husband, Richard Wasilchin, said his wife’s crime was an uncharacteristic lapse in judgement.
“My wife, she’s never been in trouble in her life. She’s never had a speeding ticket,” he said.
“Obviously, she made a huge mistake, and she’s willing to pay for it,” he added.
Richard Wasilchin also questioned how a non-sworn department employee could be capable of such a massive theft could take place and go undetected for more than three years.
“Maybe they need to look at their policies a little more,” he said.
Louise Wasilchin, who wore a white sweater and remained silent other than answering “yes” when asked if the stipulated to the amount of restitution, cast family members a small smile as a bailiff led her out of the courtroom.
Wasilchin pleaded guilty late last year to stealing more than $100,000 worth of parking meter money, fine money and vehicle impound fees.
Police alleged she actually stole more than $340,000, and at her sentencing and restitution hearing Wednesday, Wasilchin admitted the theft amounted to $309,032.
She was ordered to repay the money to Covina, plus 10 percent interest annually. Slightly more than $5,000 already seized from her by Covina police was counted toward her debt.
The theft took place between January of 2008 and May of 2011, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Officials first became suspicious of Wasilchin after she was involved in a car crash in April of last year and police noticed she had about $1,000 worth of quarters in a canvass bag in her car, according to Deputy District Attorney Edward Miller, who prosecuted the case. She was not working that day.
Detectives then found an additional $3,000 or so worth of quarters in her home and office, and as the investigation went on, the amount of the alleged theft grew to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Additionally, when officials searched her desk at work on May 5, 2011, they discovered a police reported she had intercepted, preventing her son-in-law from being prosecuted for DUI, district attorney’s officials said. The arrest had occurred in May of 2008.
After nearly eight months of investigation, officials arrested Wasilchin Dec. 15, 2011 and placed her on leave, officials said. She resigned a short time later.
The plea deal prior to trial, along with Wasilchin’s subsequent admission Wednesday that she owes the city more than $300,000, “is reflective on both the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit and the investigators,” Raney added.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, a deputy immediately took her into custody to begin serving her sentence.
Prior to a plea deal she reached with authorities late last year, Wasilchin could have faced up to six years and 8 months in prison.
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UPDATED: Former Covina police records clerk pleads guilty to theft, hiding record

WEST COVINA — A former Covina Police Department civilian records clerk pleaded guilty Friday to charges of stealing more than $100,000 dollars from the agency and hiding her son-in-law’s crime report to prevent his prosecution, authorities said.
Mary Louise Wasilchin, also known as Louise Vance-Wasilchin, 58, of Upland, admitted to stealing at least $140,000 from the police department and hiding the records during an arraignment hearing in West Covina Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
Under a plea agreement, she is expected to be sentenced to two years and eight months in state prison, according to police and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials. She will not be eligible to serve her sentence in county jail under the state’s new prison realignment program.
“I’m glad there’s a resolution in the case,” Covina Police Chief Kim Raney said. “It’s appropriate that she goes to state prison, and the next step now is to get full restitution for the city.”
He added that the investigation and prosecution has been an unpleasant experience for the department.
“You’ve got a supervisor who was trusted by her managers, and it turns out that trust was betrayed,” Raney said.
Police believe Wasilchin actually stole more than $340,000, officials said. The exact amount Wasilchin will be ordered to repay will be determined at a sentencing and restitution hearing Feb. 17.
Wasilchin has already agreed to repay $140,000 of stolen money, however officials will present evidence in the restitution hearing that the amount is higher, Lt. Patrick Buchanan said.
“We look forward to presenting more information to the court,” he said.
Prior to Friday’s plea deal, Wasilchin could have faced up to six years and eight months in prison if convicted as charged, according to Deputy District Attorney Edward A. Miller.
Wasilchin stole city parking meters funds and fine money, as well as vehicle impound fees, D.A. spokeswoman Jane Robison said in a written statement. The thefts allegedly took place between January 2008 and May 2011.
Raney pointed out that the amount of money Wasilchin is suspected of taking could have paid the salaries of three patrol officers for a year.
She was arrested Dec. 15 following an extensive probe, investigators said. She was first placed on leave, then resigned.
Authorities became suspicious of Wasilchin after she was involved in a car crash on April 29 and a police officer noticed 1,000 quarters inside the vehicle in a canvas bag. She was not working that day.
A subsequent search of Wasilchin’s Upland home turned up more than 2,000 dollar coins in a bedroom and another $1,000 in coins in an office, Miller said.
When investigators searched Wasilchin’s desk on May 5, they discovered a police report she had intercepted detailing her son-in-law’s alleged driving under the influence and hit-and-run arrest on May 6, 2008.
“An investigation revealed that the report was never delivered to be filed in court,” Robison said, adding that, “there was no evidence that her son-in-law was aware of her actions.”
Raney said the Wasilchin’s guilty plea so early in the trial process was “a reflection on how solid the case was.”
“We’re pleased that it didn’t have to go into a long lengthy trial and she admitted her guilt,” Buchanan added.
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The true face of the California Assembly — Mike Duvall (R-Brea)*

* Micheal Duvall (R-Yorba Linda) brags about sex with a lobbyist representing Sempra Energy. Until a little while ago, he sat on the Assembly Utilities committee. He’s been removed by Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles). This hearing was before the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a bill dealing with SCAQMD emission credits.

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The Temple City bribery/perjury/campaign finance fiasco

The mayor, a former mayor and a campaign fixer/suspected bagman who hoped to be on the council face some serious felony bribery/perjury charges after finally appearing in court Wednesday.

If you believe what the DA alleges, small-time greed drove these political hacks to basically extort a developer who may have been in over his head in the first place.

The truth of the matter is Temple City is probably not only local government corrupted by the easy cash that flows from developer’s pockets. It’s just that most developers aren’t carrying around a pocket wire to record the transaction and burn the council. Here’s an excerpt from our story on Boss Wilson and her crew:


LOS ANGELES – Temple City’s mayor, its former mayor and a former City Council candidate were indicted Wednesday on felony charges of bribery, perjury and other counts related to a nine-month corruption probe into their dealings with a local developer.

The 21-count indictment was returned Monday by the Los Angeles County Grand Jury and unsealed Wednesday by Judge Patricia Schnegg at the criminal courts building in downtown Los Angeles.

Temple City Mayor Judy Wong was charged with six counts of bribery, three counts of perjury and one count of solicitation of bribery. Former mayor Cath Wilson was charged with three counts of bribery and three counts of perjury.

Former City Council candidate Scott Carwile, who was also once Wilson’s campaign treasurer, was charged with four counts of perjury and one misdemeanor count of failing to report a campaign contribution.

“It’s actually quite rare that we bring bribery charges, because of the nature of the crime,” said Deputy District Attorney David Demerjian, who heads the DA’s Public Integrity Division. “Normally, neither side involved in the bribery will report it to us. It’s usually beneficial to them to just continue on with the conspiracy.”


Bail was set at $250,000 for Wong, $150,000 for Wilson and $100,000 for Carwile. All three posted bail, were booked, and were ordered to return July 9 for a pre-trial hearing.


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Warrants served on Temple City Council members *

DA’s officials say search warrants were served at City Hall this morning and at 2 other locations. Three council members are under investigation for allegedly taking bribes from developer Randy Wang in exchange for providing smooth sailing to Wang’s proposed mixed-use development on Las Tunas.

*UPDATE 1:42 p.m. from reporter Alfred Lee:

Investigators searched City Hall and five (not two) residences: Mayor Cathe Wilson, council members Judy Wong and David Capra, former City Council candidate Scott Carwile (whom Randy Wang has accused of taking cash bribes for his campaign) and Jay Liyanage, the former project manager of Wang’s Piazza mall project.

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San Berdoo County assessor arrested with meth

Property values in the Inland Empire are sinking to new lows, while the Assessor is suspected of fiddling with nose candy.

Bill Postmus, once a rising star in the Inland Empire’s Republican Party, was arrested Thursday morning in possession of a pile of meth. One can only guess what else investigators found when they raided his house, but it’s a well-known fact that meth addicts have addicts have a lot of proclivities that don’t make for family reading. Here’s the early story from the San Bernardino Sun:


Assessor Bill Postmus was arrested this morning after investigators say they found methamphetamine in his Rancho Cucamonga house while serving a search warrant for an ongoing investigation related to possible abuse of his authority as a county official.

About 50 San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office investigators and investigative technicians served 10 search warrants in six cities, including San Bernardino, Highland, Apple Valley, Victorville, Rancho Cucamonga and Rancho Santa Margarita in Orange County.

District Attorney spokeswoman Susan Mickey said she could not disclose specific locations.

But she did confirm that a search warrant was also served at the office of Jim Erwin, a former assistant assessor who now serves


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