Pasadena struck with Bell-like scandal

Pasadena struck with Bell-like scandal

 

Rose Parade 2010, wikimediaPasadena has a reputation of being run by good-government liberals. But now it’s immersed in a scandal that could rival that of Bell and its infamous former administrator, Robert Rizzo.

The Pasadena Star News reported, “Los Angeles County District Attorney’s investigators Tuesday arrested a former Pasadena city employee and two other people suspected of using a City Hall slush fund to embezzle more than $6 million in taxpayer dollars over a decade.”

In a separate article, Pasadena Star News editor Frank Girardot, a former crime reporter, pointed out Pasadena used the same accounting firm that missed the financial misappropriation of funds in Bell. According to a separate story, that firm was Mayer Hoffman McCann.

Referring to the Rose Parade, Girardot wrote, “No one would describe the smell emanating from City Hall this New Year’s morning as the sweet fragrance of roses.

“Nope. That’s the smell of rot. It’s the stench of filth and corruption.”

Arrested were:

  • Danny Ray Wooten, 51, a former management analyst in the city’s Department of Public Works. He had an annual salary of $131,000 per year, according to Radaris.com. He was the project manager for “undergrounding” electric utilities in Pasadena;
  • Melody Jenkins, 46, formerly Wooten’s assistant;
  • Tyrone Collins, 55, owner of Collins Electric in Altadena, who allegedly received $3.5 million of the stolen money.

Collins allegedly ran his company out of his home. Wooten and Collins allegedly attended the same church.

Collins Electric

Manta.com reports Collins Electric has annual revenues of $500,000 to $1 million and employs a staff of one to four. The website Porch.com shows the projects for which building permits were applied for contractors in California.  From 2007 to 2012, Collins Electric showed 29 permits for undergrounding electrical work and no other permits.

Wooten, Collins and Jenkins are all being held in county jail with bail set at $1.75 million, $900,000 and $50,000, respectively.

Where did the money go?  An audit conducted by an outside accounting firm for Pasadena reported the $3.5 million given to Collins for the “undergrounding” allegedly instead went to the New Covenant Christian Fellowship Church in Pomona.

Collins allegedly kicked back some of the monies to Wooten.  In turn, Wooten allegedly also diverted $2.8 million to the Southern California Evangelist Jurisdiction Center in Pasadena.

And $40,000 allegedly was given by Wooten to his assistant, Jenkins, for temporary services in 2008 unrelated to the undergrounding utility project.

pasadena‘Undergrounding’ project                          

The ongoing $50 million project for “undergrounding” overhead electric utility lines in Pasadena is independent of the city’s general fund.  A $5 million per year surcharge on electric bills funds it. Revenues are collected by the Pasadena Department of Water and Power. The project is implemented by the Public Works Department.

Since there were no financial controls over the program, Wooten allegedly had unchecked power to authorize checks for work never completed by Collins.  Moreover, Wooten allegedly wrote in larger amounts on the checks he was authorized to write.

The Public Works director countersigned the checks, thus a whole chain of departments and employees was involved in issuing the checks.

Another irregularity is that city building inspectors apparently never checked whether the undergrounding projects met any engineering specifications or codes either.  If they had, they would have caught on that no work had been completed.

Additionally, Wooten would have had to file annually with the City Attorney’s Office a Statement of Economic Interests (California Form 700), required by the California Political Reform Act. What Wooten reported on his annual disclosure form was not reported by the city.

Pasadena has a Fraud Hotline to detect fraud, waste and abuse. It was not used by any employee during the decade-long occurrence of this alleged embezzlement.

Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard went so far as to call the undergrounding utility fund a “City Hall slush fund.”

Democratic scandals

From 2010, the Democratic Party in California has been plagued by corruption scandals in the state Senate and at the municipal level, most notably in Bell.

The Senate scandals cost the Democratic Party its two-thirds supermajority in 2014. Sen. Roderick Wright, D-Los Angeles, resigned after being convicted of perjury. Indicted in separate incidents were Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, and Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello.

In Pasadena, Democrats comprise six out of seven City Council members, plus the directly-elected mayor. Pasadena is ranked as one of the most liberal cities in the United States by the Bay Area Center for Voting Research, with 69.9 percent of voters considered “liberal.”

8 comments

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  1. libi
    libi 5 January, 2015, 12:07

    all of our government agencies are corrupt…. the city of beaumont is missing $300 million in bond debt and $150 million in mitigation fees…. city staff embezzled all the money and never built a recycled water facility, fire stations, or adequate infrastructure….

    the city had a december 31st deadline from the water quality control board to produce title 22 recycled water and another deadline from california river watch to stop a lawsuit to force the city to stop polluting the groundwater and replace all the sewer lines that are not up to code – and almost none of the sewer lines are up to code…

    read about the corruption in beaumont here: http://beaumontgate.org

    Reply this comment
    • lordonlow
      lordonlow 5 January, 2015, 14:49

      libi-

      GREAT site, beaumontgate… I’m intensely interested in government corruption. Are you the author of the original article on Patch.com? If so, I’d like to correspond, as I think one of the things I’ve written may interest you, I’m interested in developing a project along these lines (exposing government corruption) and I’m looking for collaborators. If interested, you can email me at [email protected]

      Thanks,

      jp kaneshida
      LA, CA

      Reply this comment
  2. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 5 January, 2015, 14:32

    I am so glad they caught these idiots!

    Reply this comment
  3. lordonlow
    lordonlow 5 January, 2015, 14:39

    Surprised? As someone who is a native Angeleno and raised on the east side, not far from Bell and Pasadena, I was very interested in the Bell crime spree. But then it hit me; The LA Times found the Bell scandal by sheer luck. So, how many more government bureaucrats are criminally looting us? Given that media has cut investigative reporting to its ankles, we’ll probably never know. What a mess.

    Reply this comment
  4. John Galt
    John Galt 5 January, 2015, 16:56

    Most smaller cities with enterprise functions like the City of Pasadena, historically assign all billing and collections to a central billing group within the city’s Finance Department. This group bills and collects all utility services such as water, electric, sewer and trash collection etc., and other regularly billed items on combined monthly statements. Further, accounting for the entire city is also supervised by the Director of Finance. In this case, if he/she is still employed, expect Pasadena’s Director of Finance to ultimately be fired for incompetence, and, firm(s) that performed the many annual financial audits will to be sued, as well. This is cleaner than Bell but highlights the level of incompetence at work there over the last decade.

    Reply this comment
  5. John Galt
    John Galt 5 January, 2015, 17:53

    My apologies. It appears incompetence was not isolated to Pasadena’s Finance Department but was alive and well with head managers of Pasadena Water & Power and Department of Public Works. Apparently, they spent a year analyzing this simple underutilized underground utilities fund and released their report to city council members in June 2014. After a full year of review, neither group of engineering and accounting professionals had noticed the management analyst’s decade of embezzlement. The theft of $6+ million wasn’t exposed until a city councilman raised hell in October 2014 about the vagueness of staff responses and demanded greater detail on how the fund was spent. See the preliminary June 2014 report beginning on page 8+ of the Municipal Services Committee meeting agenda:
    http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/publicaffairs/agendas/Past-Agendas%20-%20City%20Council%20Standing%20Committees/Municipal%20Services/2014/05-13-14%20MSC%20Full%20Packet.pdf

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  6. Lou Miller
    Lou Miller 13 May, 2015, 01:54

    Corruption in the City of Pasadena California is beyond billing errors of the financial department. There is a large homeless population in that city, resulting from judicial judges, attorneys and code enforcement officers auctioning, non-foreclosure, Quiet Title of peoples’ homes, illegally. One property, i.e. beneficiary has actual Deed and the. non-probate Will. But, corrupt judges are ignoring the legal rights. This is grand theft! Code Enforcement Officer Andre Temurian and his realtor wife Hermine Temurian now own the property 73 Eloise Ave., 91107, using it as rental income property. This Code Enforcement Officer certainly has a conflict of interest, and, he is in Breach of Public Trust. while in a thieving frenzy!!

    Reply this comment
  7. HaHaMongaMotherFudger
    HaHaMongaMotherFudger 20 May, 2015, 13:14

    The Real crimes are not the $6.4 Million Embezzled as a group thing as 6.4 Million is a Joke to these guys as this is what the take in on a given DAY as Racketeers. When the facts are revealed that Pasadena Ca Hired Eric Walsh of Riverside Co as an insurance policy against the 2194 Corson St Pasadena CA 91107 Scandal that to this day is kept out of the headlines etc. The Brandenbergs of Sierra Madre pointed out 21994 Corson Facts, A nice City Wouldn’t be doing this. With holding Data Evidence that could save lives in favor of the City Parcels illegally transfered to Straw Buyer’s in un published closed door City Council Meetings where the Code and Health violations that produced the City Terrorism justification’s are simply wiped clean with a New record next tho the old record in the Permit Dept. New owners / tenants get the Business after 30-45 days, Then all dept.’s even Police for the mfg. false witness Calls. Pre Paid neighbors Call in at pre designated times. Racketeering means your post man slides the good stuff to the Partners. The Money that was stolen for clean water on every spigot, faucet, supply was Usurped by the same Crime Ring who Stole the Underground Utilities Monies. No way could the Pasadena Organization Pyramid Scheme allow the public to know why every one in Pasadena has Cancer in the Home or Next Door everywhere here now. This means Cancer Cluster. Class action Suits for Specific Cancer (see Daiagonstic 74 ) to force Monk Hill Water treatment plant Construction for the Alta Dena Gentrified neighborhood only with the remainder that they do not use being dumped into the San Gabriel Water Table. Pasadena Can say that Monk Hill supply’s pure water to NE Pasadena via Monk hill putting in some water into the S.G.V. water table.
    Hahamonga State Park is the Oak Grove Park EPA Super Fund site R E N A M E D . see Holderman. Now tell me about $6.4 BILLION + in Stolen Funds +++ The City Wide Real estate Fraud with the Racketeering see Partner’s YEXT / YELP / CITYGRID of Pasadena conveniently hitting the business’s that are Racketeered. Use 4d Google search’s to see PRIOR EVENTS.
    Peace

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