judges-gavel

By Steve Scauzillo, Staff Writer
@stevscaz on Twitter
Posted: 07/12/2013 06:39:38 PM PDT
Updated: 07/12/2013 06:40:42 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES – A judge on Friday tossed out of court the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s case against former San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments Executive Director Nick Conway, declaring him innocent — as Conway and his attorney had maintained all along. The District Attorney had alleged Conway obtained contracts that benefitted him financially.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Norm Shapiro ruled Conway did nothing wrong and dismissed all four felony conflict-of-interest charges leveled against the former head of the 31-member planning agency.

“The court feels there is no crime here, period,” said the judge.

Deputy District Attorney Dana Aratani declined to say if he would appeal the ruling. “We are going to be considering our options,” he said Friday afternoon.

A relieved Conway, 61, of Pasadena, left the court smiling but declined to comment by order of his attorney, Kenneth White. White is a former U.S. Attorney who once prosecuted government officials for fraud. Conway also received help from a second attorney, former state Attorney General and Pasadena resident John Van de Kamp, who appeared in court on his behalf Friday.

“To go for a felony prosecution case like this did not make any sense whatsoever,” Van de Kamp said. He added that Conway, who was both the head of his firm, Arroyo Seco Associates, and executive director of the SGVCOG, did a good job.

“He was able to provide services that were very reliable and efficient and came at a cost that is lower than they are paying now,” Van de Kamp said.

Indeed, the SGVCOG’s governmental structure was on trial as much as Conway. Both White and Van de Kamp said the SGVCOG was correct in dumping the independent contract form of governance when it hired Andrea Miller as an employee and the agency’s new executive director earlier this year.

However, White said since the SGVCOG terminated Conway’s contract on Oct. 31, he has not had any clients and has “been punished” by the District Attorney’s wrongful prosecution.

Judge Shapiro agreed with the defense’s argument that whenever Conway obtained grants, he was doing exactly what the SGVCOG governing board had instructed and did not violate Section 1090 of the penal code, the conflict-of-interest clause. In addition, every grant in question was approved by the SGVCOG board, done in the open and with the blessing of the SGVCOG’s attorneys.

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