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Crime & Justice

Ex-Lynwood officials guilty of misappropriating funds

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A jury found ex-Lynwood City Council members Louis Byrd, 80, and Fernando Pedroza, 47 guilty of misappropriation of public money.

The verdict came Tuesday, after four days of deliberation. The men will be sentened August 27 and face up to six and five years, respectively, in prison.

The Los Angeles District Attorneys office investigated the poltiicans for four years, after a tip from a former city manager saying council members were paying themselves substantial salaries for working for apparently purposeless city agencies. Charges against two were dropped. Another official, Arturo Reyes, pleaded guilty to grand theft and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 5.

According to the DA's office, Byrd and Pedroza paid themselves up to $40,000 a year for participating on the Lynwood Public Finance Authority and Lynwood Information Inc. Prosecutors argued that any work the council members did for the committees was part of their jobs as city council members and did not warrant extra pay. 

Defense attorneys argued that the men had been advised their actions were legal by city attorneys.

According to the L.A. Times, the verdict is particularly important, as it's the first time the DA's office has made such an argument against city officials—one that''ll come up again when Bell officials go to trial.