California residents may want to know more about a corruption scheme involving city officials in Riverside County that reportedly cost almost $43 million in taxpayer money. This effort to steal Beaumont City money needed for transportation funding took place over more than two decades. Four people involved in the scheme were sentenced on Dec. 19.
All the men sentenced on the 19th pleaded guilty and are barred from ever holding a public office in California. The men were not given jail time but were sentenced to electronic monitoring and probation, and they were ordered to pay back more than $11 million combined in restitution.
This embezzlement effort started when some of the city officials involved in the scheme founded a private company called Urban Logic Consulting. The company's first major contract with the city occurred in 1995 to run the city's sewage treatment plant for $2 million. City work was directed to the company despite a conflict of interest as the city officials who owned the company could profit financially by directing city contracts to their company. City employees and private businesses also received interest-free loans.
Some of the people involved in this scheme held positions as the public works director, a police chief, the city finance director, the city manager and the director of economic development. The charges included felony counts of embezzlement of public funds, misappropriation of public funds and conflict of interest.
The alleged misuse of public funds can lead to federal embezzlement charges. As stories like this show, a conviction could result in fines or restitution, loss of privileges, probation or jail time. When accused of embezzlement or another white-collar crime, an individual may wish to consult an attorney. An attorney might look at the evidence in a case and recommend a course of action that involves plea bargaining or fighting charges.