A South Bay water official and his other half were acquitted of corruption and embezzlement charges Tuesday by a Torrance jury that declined prosecution claims that they poorly funneled money to a member of another water board for his personal use.
Rob Katherman, an elected official at the Water Replenishment District of Southern California, shared a hug with his lawyer while his other half, Marilyn, sobbed when the decisions were revealed in Torrance Superior Court.
We re grateful that the jury has lastly ended this problem, said Mark Werksman, Rob Katherman s lawyer. The case never must have been brought, it was based upon a structure of lies.
Marilyn Katherman s attorney, Glen Jonas, called her an innocent individual who suffered needlessly for two years and slammed the district lawyer s Public Integrity Division.
The bureaucratic bullies making decisions either didn t understand how to examine a case or they were blinded by their unethical method of holding Marilyn Katherman captive to try and force her spouse to plead guilty, he stated. I anticipate better from what I consider to be the best District Attorney s Office in the country.
Deputy District Phoenix Criminal attorney Dana Aratani stayed only that while his office does not concur with the decisions, we do appreciate the process.
The Kathermans, who reside in Rancho Palos Verdes, were charged in 2014 with utilizing their Torrance not-for-profit to guide countless taxpayer dollars to the other water board member, Ronald Smith.
Smith contributed $20,000 from the West Basin Municipal Water District to the Adopt a Stormdrain Foundation over a three-year duration to sponsor storm water channel clean-ups, however shortly after each contribution came in, Rob Katherman composed checks from the structure that in fact spent for Smith s personal expenses when he was having financial problems.
Smith was detained in July 2014 and later on admitted to felony problem of interest in a plea deal. He served 55 days in jail, was sentenced to probation, purchased to pay restitution and banned from holding office.
The Kathermans, who were on the Adopt a Stormdrain s board of directors, were both charged with embezzlement and misusing public funds, though the latter charge was dropped versus Marilyn. Rob Katherman resigned from his task as an aide to Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price Jr
. Prosecutors argued the Kathermans knowingly participated in the embezzlement plan to assist their buddy and because the not-for-profit got to keep portions of the donations.
When Rob Katherman discovered investigators were examining the fishy checks, he presumably produced billings and letters including one from a dead male to cover his tracks, Aratani argued.
Smith, who is now out of work, affirmed recently that Rob Katherman was aware of where the money was going. It covered Smith s lease, boat repair services and his children s tuition, sports and dance expenses after his real estate company folded.
However defense attorneys argued Smith deceived Rob Katherman into thinking the checks covered academic grants, and stayed Marilyn had absolutely nothing to do with them at all. She was the structure s treasurer on paper, she was not authorized to write checks.
Werksman said Smith linked Rob Katherman to get a sweetheart handle prosecutors. Six other charges were dismissed in his plea offer.
Rob Katherman revealed thankfulness outside the courtroom Tuesday.
On behalf of Marilyn and I, we re simply thankful for the jury s time and effort and now we can move on, he said, adding that he does not visualize going back to Price s office.
He said he will concentrate on his position at the Water Replenishment District he prepares to look for re-election in November and consider possibly restarting the inactive Adopt a Stormdrain Foundation.
The nonprofit s creator, Cathy Beauregard who got in touch with Torrance police in fall 2013 about the suspicious checks stated she was stunned by the verdicts.
I m just floored that the justice system doesn t work, stated Beauregard, who stated she thinks jurors were not offered a precise photo. Rob understood everything that was going on.
She denied accusations from defense lawyer that she misused Adopt a Stormdrain funds and linked the Kathermans just because she was bitter about not being called the structure s board president. She said she has invoices to show that every penny she used from the nonprofit covered its efforts.
Rob always knew what I spent every cent on, said Beauregard, who was never ever accuseded of a criminal offense. I always called him and told him when I was going to spend money and for exactly what.
Defense attorneys checked out excerpts from emails she sent out to the D.A. s Office in 2014 asking about whether she would get a piece of restitution money.
Beauregard stayed she continues to be included with water clean-ups, which she has actually been doing for 20 years.
Torrance cops Detective Charles Ahn acknowledged on the witness stand that he did not know if Marilyn Katherman had any understanding of the deals and said he did not at first believe she was a suspect.
A vital piece of proof in the case against her a $350 check spending for Smith s child s dance lessons at the Peninsula School of Performing Arts was undercut when school owner Tita Boulger testified she did not remember Marilyn Katherman delivering it.
She did, however, remember her composing 2 personal checks to sponsor Smith s daughter, which were presented at trial.
At the time, Marilyn Katherman was on the board of directors of the school s now liquified nonprofit dance company, which provided scholarships to promising students.
Jurors spent more than two days deliberating.
By Monday afternoon, they were locked on the counts versus Rob Katherman, and requested for expanded meanings differentiating the charges.
But Judge Hector Guzman stated the hour of directions they had actually received covered the meanings completely.
Jonas stated jurors he talked to after the decision told him the case versus Marilyn Katherman was so weak, they felt the prosecution did not have trustworthiness. They also felt the authorities investigation was incomplete, he stayed.
In response to the case, West Basin overhauled its directors standard procedure. The Carson-based water agent likewise now requires groups to provide documentation demonstrating how they use sponsorship money.
While jurors were deliberating last week, Rob Katherman voted at a Water Replenishment District conference to use public funds to spend for the legal costs of another board member, Carson Mayor Al Robles.
Good morning. It is Friday, March 18. Lobbyists in Silver Lake are taking inspiration from the movie Up and tying arrangements of balloons to the roofing systems of houses that will soon be taken down by small lot developers. Here’s exactly what else is happening in the Golden State:
The Southern California Gas Co. looked for a rate increase in 2014 to pay for a highly proactive safety program that would test wells at four natural gas storage websites. The wells were weakening and at threat for an unrestrained failure. Today, the rate boost and safety program are both still pending. A testimonial by the Los Angeles Times found gas authorities continued to improve production of the wells, something that experts stay enhanced the risk of failure. L.a Times
The high-speed train might be headed underground. A new proposal requires more tunneling along the Burbank to Palmdale route, that includes the intricate San Gabriel Mountains. After a public meeting held by the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments on Thursday, it was clear that the brand-new plan would remain to get resistance from the communities, despite the fact that the brand-new strategy would spare a number of communities of railway bisecting neighborhoods.
End of an age.
SeaWorld will end its orca reproducing program. The company s 29 orcas will endure the rest of their lives in the park s captivity. The move is a sign that SeaWorld never ever recovered from the documentary Blackfish, which charged the company of abusing and neglecting its whales. They had to develop because they wished to continue to earn money, stayed Wendy Patrick, a company ethics lecturer at San Diego State University. Los Angeles Times.
DROUGHT AND CLIMATE.
Drought or no drought? Reports of the drought s demise have actually been exaggerated. However water officials have actually done what would have been unthinkable a year ago they just recently opened the spill gates at Folsom Lake and enabled water to stream into the American River in order to avoid flooding. Is it dry spell? Is it not drought? Exactly what should we be doing? I don t think anyone is precisely sure, said Jay Lund, a teacher of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis.
Worth a thousand words: New images reveal California is slowly recovering from the drought.
AT LARGE. Newspaper wars: The U.S. Department of Justice submitted a civil claim Thursday to avoid Tribune Publishing from purchasing the Orange County Register and Riverside Press-Enterprise. At $56 million, the company was the leading bidder for Freedom Communications, though the sale still needs approval from a bankruptcy court. The federal government believes the deal might negatively affect readers and marketers.
Fatal fall: A construction employee died Thursday after falling 53 stories from a downtown building. It sounded like a bag of cement fell off the edge of the building, said Mel Melcon.
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT.
Lobbying loophole: The Fair Political Practices Commission voted Thursday to close a loophole that permitted anybody to join a lobbyist conference with political leaders. Critics stated it permitted people to influence lawmakers without ever signing up as a lobbyists. Now, any individual who tags along with a lobbyist should be a subject matter specialist and worker of the group or firm that hired the lobbyist.
If you re the state of California: $17,000. The ridiculous price quote highlights how the state s administration can intensify the cost of simple repair services.
In the system: Why did foster care officials in Santa Clara County location a 2-year-old girl with her dad when he was living in a transitional home for recovering drug addicts? Kelly Nguyen struggled with a chromosomal abnormality and passed away 2 months after relocating with her daddy. County authorities are now examining what caused that positioning.
Green future: How did California end up being a leader on renewable energy and battling climate modification? The most significant element was the state government in Sacramento, where for many 10 years power gamers Republicans and Democrats have been marching toward a carbon-neutral existence.
CRIMINAL ACTIVITY AND COURTS.
A defense lawyer and denver Criminal attorney stays the protesters were exercising their 1st Amendment rights and compared their actions to Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
I play one on television: Tv day, they re officers with the Los Angeles Police Department and by night, they re playing cops on television. All they have to do is provide them a prop weapon and a prop badge, and they’re prepared to work, stated Chic Daniel, a retired investigator and the godfather of Hollywood technical consulting.
Dining establishment burglary: Carne asada fries are tasty but early Tuesday they were utilized as a decoy for an armed robbery at a San Diego restaurant. A male entered Rolberto s Mexican Food about 4 a.m. and purchased the fries.
Border crossing: Customers can use Uber to cross the Mexican border beginning today. Drivers will go as far south as Ensenada and as far east as Mexicali. But Uber will not take customers north back throughout the United States border. The rides aren t low-cost San Diego to the Tijuana Airport will cost $100 and you ll need to bring your passport.
New infants: It s spring, which means it s time to see all the child animals at Southern California s zoos. There are giraffes, koalas, kangaroos and African crested porcupettes.
Paid admission: Visiting the Broad Museum has been complimentary since it opened, however that s ready to alter. The museum will charge admission for its very first unique exhibit, Cindy Sherman s Imitation of Life, which is set up to open in June. 89.3 KPCC.
Art installations: The 2nd Pacific Standard Time initiative from the J. Paul Getty Trust is underway. Museums in Southern California will include deal with the broad theme of Latin American and Latino art for exhibitions in 2017 and 2018.
San Diego will start the day with some fog. Los Angeles will be bright and 75. San Francisco will have a mix of sun and clouds.
Today’s California Memory originates from Kathi Wright:.
My granny lived in Huntington Beach, on Golden West Avenue, on an eight-acre parcel at the crest of the hill. She had six horses, a humongous garden, chickens, pet dogs and periodically a deserted infant lamb in a box by the stove. Mt. Whitney was normally noticeable and it seemed possible that I might ride one of her horses all the method there.
The Commission on Judicial Performance released a six-page public admonishment of Judge Patrick E. Connolly of the Compton Courthouse.
Judge Connolly, the commission wrote, breached his task to regard and comply with the law.
The discipline stemmed from a 2010 mayhem and attack trial, which Connolly commanded, according to a case summary consisted of in the admonishment.
Throughout the case, Criminal attorney Los angeles Freddie Fletcher told the judge that someone in the audience told him they d seen the district attorney shaking her head slowly, maybe aiming to coach the testimony of the witness on the stand, according to the commission summary.
Connolly, a previous gang district attorney who has served on the bench for seven years, told Fletcher he ‘d take up the problem at a later time. The judge cautioned Fletcher that if the claims weren t real, he might, in reality, have grounds to hold the defense attorney in contempt.
The commission– composed of 3 judges, 2 attorneys and 6 members of the public– discovered that Connolly later got in touch with a judge in Long Beach to obtain info about another possible contempt case including Fletcher.
That move, the commission composed, was incorrect and made it appear that the judge was “performing an independent investigation into Mr. Fletcher s conduct, and was embroiled in the matter and biased versus Mr. Fletcher.
The commission composed that Connolly admitted that his contact was improper embroilment.
The judge eventually scheduled and held off multiple hearings on the problem, needing Fletcher to come to court although Connolly hadn t really submitted contempt charges versus Fletcher– a serious misuse of the judicial office, the commission composed.
Grabbed remark Wednesday, Connolly stated, I m on vacation in Ireland. He decreased to comment further.
Fletcher said he never sought out a complaint versus the judge, however stayed the commission s decision gave him some relief.
I was, in fact, the victim, he said. It was a really bad thing when it occurred. It consumed all my time.
The admonishment “vindicates my decision to not submit a problem versus Judge Connolly and to rely on my faith that his abuse of authority would be exposed and fulfill the consequences it deserves, stated Fletcher, who is currently protecting himself against pending corrective charges from the State Bar of California in an unrelated case.
The state commission independently reprimanded Connolly in 2010 for utilizing obscenity in his chambers during conversations with lawyers.