Wednesday, February 4, 2009

(Prison) Food For Thought

From the FBI Website - Corruption in City Hall

The Crooked Reign of “King” Albert
01/08/07

Most of the corrupt politicians we investigate illegally peddle favors—the proverbial “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” kind, usually with money passed under the table to fully satisfy the itch.

Then there’s Albert Robles.

“He was so corrupt, he basically put an entire city under his thumb,” says Los Angeles Special Agent David Smith, who led the case for the FBI.

Robles is now serving a 10-year sentence for his 30 fraud and corruption-related crimes while treasurer of South Gate, California—a largely industrial community about 12 miles outside downtown Los Angles. The city is run by a popularly elected five-member city council, which in turn names the Mayor and Vice-Mayor.

Once elected city treasurer in 1997, Robles’ seemed determined to rule the city—purely to his own benefit. He even proclaimed himself “King of South Gate”…and referred to the city as his “fiefdom.”

His corrupt tactics included:

  • Using the city’s treasury as his “private piggy bank for himself, his family, and his friends” (according to acting U.S. Attorney George Cardona), costing South Gate more than $35 million and bringing it to the verge of bankruptcy;
  • Firing city hall employees at will, replacing them with supporters who had little experience; (deja vu)
  • Recruiting and bankrolling unqualified local supporters for city council until he controlled the council; and (Mike Lund ....now Brian Bigelow)
  • Threatening anyone who stood in his way (suspiciously, one of his adversaries on the city council was shot in the head). (Watch out Steve Camara and Ray Hague....you may need a kevlar vest)

For the love of money. Robles and his corrupt cronies cooked up several schemes to line their own pockets. In one, Robles coerced businesses to hire a financial consultant named Edward Espinoza in order to win various city contracts, including for senior housing and sewer rehabilitation projects. (Ah an Edward who donated to the Mayor's campaign and who knows what else, a senior housing project, and a Mayor pushing the project....weird)

As part of this plan, Robles and Espinoza set up a shell corporation that raked in some $2.4 million—more than $1.4 million of which went straight into Robles’ pockets. He used part of the money to buy a $165,000 beach condo in Baja for his mother; he also forked over $55,000 for “platinum membership” in a motivational group.

In another scheme, Robles steered a $48 million refuse and recycling contract to a company in exchange for more than $30,000 in gifts and campaign contributions. (Why did Bob push a new trash/recycling system despite the fact that it will put us in more debt?)

Making the case. Four agents in our L.A. office and one IRS agent worked to gather the proof—conducting dozens of interviews, poring over financial records, and examining information from seized computers. “We opened the case in June 2000…and spent many months getting everything together to show the length and breadth of Robles’ corruption,” says Smith.

In the end. The citizens of South Gate ultimately voted Robles and his cronies out of office (but not before he racked up huge legal bills at the city’s expense), and he was convicted at trial in July 2005. Two of his business associates—including Espinoza—also went to prison.

It’s a good case in point why we’ve made rooting out public corruption our fourth highest priority—and our top criminal one. We’ve helped convict more than 1,000 federal, state, and local government officials in the last two years alone.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Any public information is being thumbed through already. Now that DiMasi, Wilkerson and the other VETERAN BOSTON LEGISLATORS are under investigation it may take the demise of River Falls to finally bring down the mayuh and his M. Edward and Poo Poo Karam.

Anonymous said...

It's like a list of Correia's accomplishments.

Anonymous said...

Wooohoo... you mean there is hope for us yet?

Can we make sure the FBI is looking here too???

Anonymous said...

You people are sick!

Anonymous said...

Yup, we're sick & tired of the blatant and rampant corruption in Fall River.

Anonymous said...

'You people are sick!'

Can you explain why you think we are sick?

Anonymous said...

I understand the parallels drawn here, but I do not think, realistically, the FBI is looking here in Fall River. Sadly, our king will continue his reign of intimidation.

Anonymous said...

The are looking in boston, hence the 30 year politician.

Anonymous said...

But the 30 year politician is no longer a politician there. It is unlikely they will dig back to find connections between current legislators and Correia. Unless there is more we should know.

Anonymous said...

And you don't think the same tactics used all those years are not being used in fall river now?

Anonymous said...

Of course they are. I just do not anticipate the FBI drawing those conclusions. They have their hands full on Beacon Hill as it is.
I agree with your desire to see the corruption and intimidation end. I think the correct path is to get him voted out. We can't wait for the FBI to do the work for us.

Anonymous said...

YOU are NUTS ..you are a joke of a journalists..i still cant get the snow plows out of my head..great work lol you thought you were on your way to a pullitzer..you are so blinded by envy sometimes i feel bad for you but then i remember the hate ,lies etc that you perpetuate..remember OLD SCHOOL FALL RIVER will always win.

Anonymous said...

That's what I'm afraid of... I pity the future of Fall River if that is true...

Anonymous said...

Oh, no it won't. Mark my words.
The party is just beginning...

Anonymous said...

Old school Fall River is about to go down-----give it time, my friend.

Anonymous said...

You see beacon hill is not looking at fall river but it will eventually stare them in the face when the connections are made.

shamrock said...

Cheers anonymous 20:36...I raise my glass of dump flavored Fall River tap water with a hint of cyanide to you.

04 February, 2009 21:09

Anonymous said...

Old school fall river? Who talks like that? I would seem that some people are stuck in a time warp.

Anonymous said...

To the contrary-----it's just slapping them in the face.