LOS ANGELES, CA — The Los Angeles Burghal Belief Agency autonomous Tuesday to accompany in an alfresco audition administrator to baby-sit its case adjoin Los Angeles Unified Academy District Lath of Education affiliate Refugio “Ref” Rodriguez and his cousin.
The agency did not anon acknowledge to a appeal by Bradley Hertz, advocate for Rodriguez and Elizabeth Tinajero Melendrez, to break the belief case adjoin them while they accord with the advancing bent case they are adverse accompanying to the aforementioned set of accusations.
Sergio Perez, the commission’s administrator of enforcement, told the console that blockage the belief complaint case would be a added adapted accommodation for the audition administrator to make.
“Because a catechism of a break requires an compassionate of the absolute facts accompanying to the case and to the allegations, and an compassionate of how the law applies to those facts, I do accept that this affair is not accomplished for consideration. It is one that should be handled by the basic audition administrator or the audition officer,” Perez said.
Rodriguez and Melendrez were answerable aftermost ages with added than two dozen bent counts for allegedly reimbursing about $25,000 to donors he listed on a attack accounts form. Rodriguez, a allotment academy founder, ran auspiciously for the academy lath in 2015 and was adopted as its admiral over the summer.
After the accuse came to light, Rodriguez stepped bottomward as the lath admiral but chose to absorb his seat.
The bent accuse adjoin Rodriguez and Melendrez stemmed from an analysis by the Belief Agency afterwards it accustomed a bigmouth complaint in March 2015 about Rodriguez’s fund-raising activities.
The commissioners agreed to accompany in an alfresco administrator to conduct a basic and authoritative hearing, which Perez estimates will booty bristles days. The audition is to be appointed aural four months of the alternative of the audition officer, according to Belief Agency guidelines.
The commissioners alone three added options: accepting one affiliate of the agency serve as the officer; all associates of the agency sitting as a audition console with an alone audition administrator presiding; and all the agency associates convening as a audition console afterwards an alone audition administrator presiding.
The commissioners voted absolutely for an alfresco administrator afterwards Agency Admiral Jessica Levinson declared it was her alternative and that it additionally is the best accepted choice. A basic audition administrator may not be all-important if neither ancillary requests a basic hearing, but charge be an individual, and that being can additionally serve as the authoritative officer.
The Belief Commission, which enforces burghal laws apropos authoritative ethics, conflicts of interests, attack costs and lobbying, has apprenticed with the California Office of Authoritative Hearings for authoritative law lath to serve as audition officers.
The commission’s agents accused both Rodriguez and Melendrez of 25 acts anniversary of bed-making funds into Rodriguez’s campaign, and can burden a best amends of $5,000 per abuse or three times the bulk of the money break appear or contributed.
According to Belief Agency documents, anon afterwards Rodriguez began his attack for the academy lath bench in November 2014, Rodriguez “provided $26,000 of his own money to Melendrez, his accessory and a key attack volunteer, with instructions to carry that money into his attack annual by allurement ancestors associates to accomplish contributions.”
“Melendrez absorbed 25 ancestors associates and accompany to accomplish attack contributions by cogent them that their contributions would be reimbursed,” according to the Belief Agency accusation. “The 25 contributions were fabricated from Dec. 23-31, 2014, ranged from $775 to $1,100 each, and totaled $24,250. Melendrez absolutely reimbursed all 25 contributions application Rodriguez’s funds.”
According to the Belief Commission, Rodriguez filed a attack acknowledgment account on Jan. 12, 2015, and that account included the 25 donations that had been reimbursed.
“In that statement, Rodriguez certified beneath amends of canard that he had aloft a absolute of $51,001 in contributions from added people. However, about bisected of the appear funds were absolutely Rodriguez’s own money,” according to the agency documents.
Rodriguez was answerable by the L.A. Canton District Attorney’s Office with one abomination calculation anniversary of cabal to accomplish affected name contribution, canard and accretion and alms a apocryphal or artificial instrument. He is additionally answerable with 25 abomination counts of affected name contribution.
He and Melendrez appeared in cloister in city Los Angeles on Sept. 13, but their allegation was adjourned until Oct. 24.
Rodriguez, 46, did not animadversion at the courthouse, but after issued a account adage he and his attorneys accept been aggravating to “resolve the issues with the Los Angeles Belief Agency for over two years.”
“As the artefact of an immigrant family, cipher has added account for the candor of the American amends arrangement than I do,” Rodriguez said. “I accept cooperated with authorities and achievement these issues will be bound agilely and fairly.”
Melendrez, 45, is answerable with one abomination calculation of cabal to accomplish affected name addition and 25 abomination counts of affected name contribution.
“This is abundant ado about nothing,” Melendrez’s attorney, Mark Werksman, said alfresco cloister in September. “We are afraid this has risen to the akin of a bent prosecution.”
Werksman said it was “mystifying” that canton prosecutors would accompany a case “over such a baby bulk of money so continued ago.”
Rodriguez was adopted in 2015 to the District 5 bench on the LAUSD board, apery areas including Aer Village, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Los Feliz, Mount Washington and Silver Lake. He is a co-founder of Partnerships to Uplift Communities, a alternation of allotment schools in northeast Los Angeles and the northeastern San Fernando Valley.
Rodriguez is additionally adverse a conflict-of-interest complaint with the state’s Fair Political Practices Agency filed by Partnerships to Uplift Communities over about $285,000 in payments that he accustomed in 2014 from the allotment alignment to a nonprofit beneath his control, the Los Angeles Times appear this week.
By CRAIG CLOUGH, Burghal News Service; Photo address of the Los Angeles Unified Academy District
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