DA declines to file against La Puente officials

From Staff Writer James Wagner

LA PUENTE – Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against a La Puente planning commissioner and councilman whom the District Attorney’s Office investigated on allegations of conspiracy and money laundering, according to a memo released Wednesday.

The District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division said it has no credible witnesses to prove its case against Planning Commissioner Charles Klinakis and Councilman Dan Holloway.

The decision ends the 2-year investigation, the memo from Deputy District Attorney Jonlyn Callahan indicated.

Click here to read the memo.

Holloway, 62, and Klinakis, 57, a La Puente contractor, both denied any wrongdoing.

“I did absolutely nothing wrong,” said Holloway, who added that no one from the DA’s Office had ever spoken with him about its investigation.

“I’ve got no comment because I don’t know anything about it,” Klinakis said.

The District Attorney’s Office said it received a complaint in October 2007 alleging Klinakis made illegal contributions during that year’s La Puente City Council election.

Through their investigation, prosecutors claim they found that Klinakis and Holloway conspired with Rolando Valera, a Baldwin Park print shop owner, to conceal the identity of the person who paid for Holloway’s mailers.

Documents show that Klinakis wrote a check for $3,500 worth of campaign mailers Valera printed for Holloway, Callahan wrote in the memo.

Holloway reported the mailers as an in-kind donation from Valera’s Colourgraphix print shop with no mention of Klinakis, according to campaign finance forms.

Holloway said Wednesday the $3,500 donation was truly an “in-kind” contribution from Valera. Holloway said he received it because of his relationship with Klinakis, who frequently does business with the print shop.

Klinakis has previously denied wrongdoing and said the allegations were politically motivated. He is one of two finalists to fill a vacant La Puente City Council seat.

Valera’s wife, Lorraine, who answered the door at the print shop Wednesday afternoon, said her husband wasn’t around. She declined to comment.

According to Holloway, he, Klinakis and Valera met in August 2007 to discuss campaign mailers and how to pay for them. At the time, Holloway was running for City Council.

Valera then generated an invoice for the mailers.

On Oct. 19, 2007, Holloway paid Valera $1,035 for those mailers, prosecutors said. That day, Klinakis paid Valera $3,500 by check for the outstanding balance on Valera’s invoice, prosecutors said.

Valera’s Colourgraphix company produced the mailers.

Holloway booked the production as an in-kind contribution, according to prosecutors and campaign-finance forms.

Prosecutors said they believe a crime was committed, but they didn’t think they could build a strong enough case to convince a jury.

“A review of the evidence supports the conclusion that La Puente Planning Commissioner Klinakis, La Puente Mayor Pro Tem Holloway and Mr. Valera conspired to hide a $3,500 campaign donation from Mr. Klinakis to Mr. Holloway,” Callahan’s memo stated.

The memo also said prosecutors eventually realized that in order to make a criminal case, they would need cooperation from Holloway or Valera.

In order to compel either of them to testify against the others, prosecutors would likely have to offer immunity as a shield against self-incrimination, according to the memo. Jurors are often reluctant to convict a suspect based on such testimony, prosecutors concluded.

The La Puente City Council is scheduled to hold a meeting Friday to consider Klinakis and Vince House, who are finalists for a council seat vacated by former Mayor Louie Lujan.