Grand jury indicts L.A. Unified construction official

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A criminal grand jury has indicted a Los Angeles Unified School District official with nine counts of conflict of interest.

Bassam Raslan is a regional construction director for L.A. Unified. Eight years ago he founded TBI & Associates, a private consulting firm. In a nine-count indictment, the Los Angeles County grand jury alleges that Raslan used his two positions in violation of state conflict of interest laws.

The grand jury alleges that Raslan, 52, recommended TBI employees for L.A. Unified jobs — and that his private firm received a portion of their salaries.

Raslan’s lawyer, Daniel Nixon, said his client will enter a not guilty plea. "Mr Raslan acted in accord with the district’s policies. His affiliation with TBI was disclosed and the district was well aware from the highest levels on down of his affiliation with TBI and what it is he was called to do."

Nixon suggested the criminal case may hinge of the definition of employee. "He was not an employee of L.A. Unified."

The county grand jury alleges that the conflict of interest violations took place after L.A. Unified fired Raslan’s business partner for similar conduct. Raslan’s supervisors allegedly didn’t know about Raslan’s relationship to the people he recommended for jobs.

L.A. Unified describes its $20 billion school construction effort as the largest public works project in the United States.