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Former Compton mayor faces retrial for misusing public funds

LOS ANGELES — A prosecutor told jurors July 10 that the evidence would show that former Compton Mayor Omar Bradley misappropriated public funds for personal expenses between 1999 and 2001, but his attorney countered that the expenditures were made in good faith and that the charges against his client are false.

The trial entered its fifth day July 14 in Department 107 of the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury is the second to hear the case against Bradley, who served as mayor from 1993 until 2001, when he lost a disputed election.

Bradley unsuccessfully ran for his old post twice since a state appellate court panel overturned his February 2004 conviction on one felony count each of misappropriation of public funds and misuse of public funds.

Deputy District Attorney Ana Lopez told the latest jury that the case involves a series of events between 1999 and 2001 while Bradley was the mayor of Compton, for which he had been a city council member dating back to 1991.

“The word here is accountability,” the prosecutor told jurors.

Bradley clearly understood the rules, but accountability for spending became “very relaxed” after the city council approved a resolution authorizing the issuance of city credit cards to council members without any public comment on the issue, Lopez told the panel.

The prosecutor said the evidence would show that some of Bradley’s expenditures were “purely personal” and for “no public benefit.”

“Mr. Bradley has violated the law and committed the crimes for which he is charged,” Lopez said.

Deputy Public Defender Robert J. Hill countered that the “charges against Mr. Bradley are false.”

He told jurors that the evidence would demonstrate that the expenditures made by Bradley — who has lived in Compton for nearly six decades — were for the city’s benefit, and said the panel will hear from Bradley about the connection the expenditures had to city business.

Hill said his client acted openly and transparently and knew he was “under scrutiny.”

In 2006, a state appeals court panel initially upheld the convictions of Bradley, former Councilman Amen Rahh and former City Manager John D. Johnson.

But Bradley’s conviction was reversed in an April 2012 ruling by a three-justice panel of California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal. They noted that a recent California Supreme Court ruling held that the section involving public officer crimes requires “that the defendant knew, or was criminally negligent in failing to know, the legal requirements that governed the act or omission.”

Bradley was sentenced in May 2004 to three years in prison, but he was later moved to a halfway house restitution center after being convicted of spending tax dollars on golf clothes and greens fees and renting a Las Vegas hotel room for a colleague — all of which he contended was to promote the city.

 

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