The District Attorney’s office has filed a notice of appeal on the Carlos Thrasher case.
More to come next week.
In the meantime, here’s a story from a few months ago:
Charges against ex-official dismissed
Whittier Daily News, The (CA) – April 8, 2008
Author/Byline: Dan Abendschein, Staff Writer
POMONA – A judge dismissed charges of perjury and conflict of interest Tuesday against a former West Covina planning commissioner.
Carlos Thrasher ‘s trial was scheduled to start Tuesday, but Superior Court Judge Daniel Buckley granted a defense motion to throw out the case.
Kevin McDermott, Thrasher ‘s attorney, said the prosecution had no case because it could not show Thrasher intended to deceive the public by not disclosing a debt to local developer Ziad Alhassen.
“I could see if we were talking about a political committee fining him,” McDermott said. “But when you are talking about perjury, you need to show the person was clearly advised ahead of time, and deliberately ignored that advice.”
Deputy District Attorney Jonlyn Callahan did not return calls requesting comment.
Thrasher , a local businessman and Iraq War veteran, was accused of failing to disclose that he owed money to Alhassen before a vote on one of Alhassen’s development projects.
He had received a letter from West Covina city attorneys advising him that the $17,166 debt he owed Alhassen did not qualify as a loan, which would have required disclosure. The City Council later approved, in a 4-1 vote, paying for Thrasher ‘s legal fees.
Councilman Steve Herfert, who has long supported Thrasher , said despite the dismissal, the victory is bittersweet.
“All those cases were a lot of waste of time and money,” Herfert said.
He added that Thrasher should never have been charged in the first place.
McDermott said he thought it was a strong possibility that the county would appeal the case to state court.
Thrasher owed the money as back rent for an office he was renting from Alhassen. Thrasher had left the country to serve in Iraq but still was using the office, according to Alhassen’s testimony in the preliminary hearing. Thrasher signed a promissory note agreeing to repay the debt to Alhassen at the rate of $500 a month, records show.
The complaint about Thrasher ‘s lack of disclosure came from Alhassen’s attorney, after Alhassen’s South Hills Homes Partnership requested a time extension to build a gated community in a cul-de-sac known as Inspiration Point.
Thrasher voted against the extension, as did the rest of the planning commission. Alhassen brought the matter directly to the City Council, which voted 3-1 against the extension.
Alhassen testified at the preliminary hearing that the decision cost him millions of dollars. He said on Tuesday that he had no comment on the dismissal.
West Covina has had sometimes contentious relations with Alhassen, who has had extensive development deals with West Covina’s redevelopment agency.
In 2006, the city filed a lawsuit against Alhassen alleging that he was in breach of contract over a 1999 deal in which the city gave the developer $4.1 million to renovate his Clippinger Chevrolet dealership.
In exchange, the city said that Alhassen promised to provide $750,000 in sales tax revenues to the city, but shorted the city $198,000.
The city won the lawsuit, Alhassen appealed, and last month, his appeal was denied by a state appellate court.
Alhassen also countersued the city after the lawsuit, but that case also was thrown out.
After voting against an extension for Alhassen’s South Hills project, Herfert was investigated by the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division for a possible conflict of interest. Charges were never filed against him.
Herfert said he thought that Thrasher ‘s reputation had suffered as a result of the charges.
“He pretty much volunteered his time and ended up facing felony charges,” Herfert said. “It’s good the case was dismissed, but with that negative information out there it was hard for him in the community and running his business.”
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