Oxnard corruption probe shows abuse, but no arrests
April 23, 2012
A nearly two-year criminal probe of Oxnard by the Ventura County District Attorney’s office ended last week with no charges or arrests, even though the investigators found “serious financial abuses.” [VenturaCountyStar]
In the 99-page report, investigators describe lax accounting and sloppy record-keeping that all but made prosecution impossible. In addition, the report says the statute of limitations has expired and available evidence — along with significant changes in state law last year that “dramatically” raised the burden of proof for prosecutors — didn’t support filing criminal charges.
The report describes now-suspended City Manager Ed Sotelo twice violating the law by getting a personal loan of $10,000 from the city and by creating a $300-a-month retirement perk for top managers.
Investigators also discovered that several local developers provided city officials with lavish gifts including vacations, expensive meals, rounds of golf, and event tickets while attempting to get projects through the system. Three of the four companies noted in the report — Shea Properties, Kennedy/Jenks, and De La Rosa — also do business with government entities in San Luis Obispo County.
“While it does not carry the force of law, Oxnard’s policy on personal ethics not only bans the receipt of such gifts, but also states, ‘city officials and employees shall not accept any gift at all from any such person or business entity when to do so would create an appearance of impropriety or favoritism in the official’s or employee’s discharge of his or her official duties,’ ” the report says.