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LA 'defund the police' councilman charged with perjury, embezzlement

Price announced that he would step down as the council’s president pro tempore, as well as from his committee assignments.

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On Tuesday, Los Angeles 'defund the police' City Councilmember Curren Price was charged with 10 counts of embezzlement, perjury, and conflict of interest, the latest of local public officials to be accused of corruption from state or federal prosecutors.

In 2020, in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, Price launched a proposal to cut $150 million from the LAPD and to reallocate those funds to youth services for black and brown communities. He also championed the creation of a social services unit to respond to non-emergecy calls, and fought to eliminate the enforcement of traffic laws, stating that they disproportionately affected black Los Angelinos.

“Over the years, data has shown that Black and Latinx motorists are more likely to have an escalated interaction with a police officer than white people during routine traffic stops. This proposal demonstrates our dedication to restructuring the role of armed law enforcement in Los Angeles,” Price said at the time.

“People of color should not have to worry about whether they’re going to be handcuffed in front of their children, slammed to the ground or make it back home to their loved ones when they get pulled over by the police. Now is the time to consider common sense police reforms that will give our communities of color peace of mind, security and a sense of relief.”

Price's proposal to make it illegal "to call 911 to make a false or frivolous report based on racial bias" was approved, the LA Sentinel reported at the time. It was already illegal to call 911 to make a false report, but this added the racial element to it.

According to a statement from the LA County district attorney’s office, Price allegedly had financial interests in development projects that he voted on, and received tens of thousands of dollars in medical benefits from the city for his now wife while he was still married to a different woman.

The district attorney’s office alleges that Del Richardson Price, the councilmember’s wife and founder of consulting company Del Richardson & Associates, received “payments totaling more than $150,000 between 2019 and 2021 from developers before he voted to approve projects.”

Price is also accused of failing to list income Richardson Price received on government financial disclosure forms.

The 10-year veteran of the City Council was charged with five counts of grand theft by embezzlement, three counts of perjury, as well as two counts of conflict of interest, according to a criminal complaint.

On Tuesday night, City Council President Paul Krekorian said he worked to suspend Price during Wednesday’s council meeting and plans for the allegations to also be heard in a committee before returning to the full council.

Earlier in the day, Price announced that he would step down as the council’s president pro tempore, as well as from his committee assignments.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Price is the fourth current or former council member to face criminal charges in four years. The council has voted twice in the last three years to suspend other members facing criminal charges.

Last year, a conversation between City Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmembers Kevin de León, Gil Cedillo, and LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera contained racist remarks. The leak of the conversation destroyed Martinez’s council career, and Herrera left his position.

Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas was found guilty of conspiracy, bribery, and fraud earlier this year, for extracting benefits for his son from USC while voting on matters that benefited the university.

Following an FBI investigation, Councilmembers Mitch Englander and Jose Huizar pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.

According to the outlet, though charges were never brought, Price was one of several people at City Hall named in the FBI inquiry in 2018.

Del Richardson & Associates received six checks from companies co-owned or incorporated by affordable housing developers whom Price later voted to fund projects for or sell city property to, according to the criminal complaint.

According to 2021 court records, Price voted to cut the price of a property sold to GTM Holdings from almost $1 million to $440,000 six months after a company incorporated by GTM Holdings wrote a check to his wife’s firm for approximately $51,000.

Price voted to fund a $4.6 million real estate project in 2019 involving developer Thomas Safran & Associates after his wife’s firm received checks totaling about $35,000 from a company incorporated by Safran, according to the complaint. The council member is also accused of defrauding the city of approximately $33,000 in medical premiums by listing Richardson Price as his wife on city forms from 2013 to 2017, despite the fact that he was still legally married to Lynn Suzette Green.

California law prohibits public officials from making or participating in any governmental decision “in which he knows or has reason to know he has a financial interest.”
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