West Covina

By Stephanie K. Baer, San Bernardino County Sun
Posted: 07/10/15 – 10:48 PM PDT |

WEST COVINA — Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, said Friday that the findings of a state audit into the city’s fiscal mismanagement revealed criminal activity at City Hall that ultimately led to the waste of taxpayer money.

“When millions of dollars are misused, I would call that criminal. I would call that corruption, absolutely,” said Hernandez, who served on the City Council from 2003 to 2010. “The City Council disregarded the law.”

The audit, released by the State Controller’s Office on Thursday, found “serious and pervasive deficiencies” in the city’s fiscal management between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2013.

Among other findings, the state discovered that the city lost $1.04 million after a real estate deal fell through because of the city’s failure to comply with public contract law. The city also failed to recover $1.02 million in costs and attorney’s fees after winning a discrimination and hostile work environment lawsuit against then-Community Development Commission Director Chris Chung, who was later promoted to the city’s top executive job.

Speaking outside City Hall with Mayor Fred Sykes and Councilmen Mike Spence and James Toma, Hernandez promised to put pressure on the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, as well as the Attorney General and State Controller’s officers, to continue digging into the city’s past.

Councilman Mike Spence said he expected the council would vote to send the report to the District Attorney’s Office.

“What’s the harm in sending it,” Spence said, adding that it’s up to the District Attorney to decide whether criminal charges are warranted. “The problems we had are systemic.”

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