Mark Ridley Thomas Garage

County crews performed work on the garage of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ private home, installing drywall, an air conditioner, appliances and a security system, according to sources familiar with the job. (Paul Pringle / Los Angeles Times / December 31, 2013)

By Paul Pringle and Jack Leonard
February 11, 2014, 10:30 p.m.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office is looking into whether thousands of dollars in taxpayer money was misspent on improvements to Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ home last year, an office spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Newly released records show that a contractor charged the county $6,239 to perform work during a project to install a security system that included replacing interior walls in Ridley-Thomas’ converted garage and trenching the property for an electrical upgrade.

The supervisor reimbursed the county $3,759 on Oct. 29 for an air conditioner and heater, a flat-screen television and a refrigerator the crews placed in the garage. Of that amount, $960 was for labor costs for installing the air conditioner and heater, according to the records.

The documents, which The Times obtained from the county under the California Public Records Act, provide the most complete picture yet of the scope and cost of the work in September and October at the supervisor’s Leimert Park home.

District attorney’s office spokeswoman Jean Guccione said the office’s review grew out of a complaint that prosecutors received last month. She declined to elaborate. The Times first reported on the work performed at Ridley-Thomas’ home in mid-January.

County supervisors are entitled to home security systems provided by the government, but not to unrelated improvements to their property at taxpayers’ expense. Ridley-Thomas has insisted that the work at his home was completely proper and that he reimbursed the county for any items not related to the security system.

The total cost to taxpayers for the job was $10,038, according to Assistant County Counsel Judy Whitehurst.

The records show that the county contractor was given the task of removing wall paneling and drywall from the supervisor’s detached garage and installing about 640 square feet of new drywall. The project included adding new baseboards as well as painting all new woodwork. Outside the garage, the contractor was to dig a trench through lawn and concrete from the home’s electrical panel to the garage, the records say. The work was to entail planting up to 1,000 square feet of Bermuda grass sod. The records did not detail how much of the work was done.

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