State controller requests audit of Montebello’s finances

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California’s state controller has ordered an audit for the city of Montebello. That small city’s financial picture reminded him of the infamous goings-on in the city of Bell.

The Los Angeles district attorney’s office is already paying attention to Montebello. Investigators for the city found more than $1 million in a couple of off-the-book accounts.

Local officials say they’ve traced that money to a loan toward developing a restaurant site. But other money is missing, and Montebello’s former city manager warns that its government may run out of money later this year.

State controller John Chiang wrote to city officials that they haven’t submitted the required annual financial reports to the state – and that the information they have forwarded may be inaccurate or incomplete. The false data may reach back several years.

Chiang has commissioned an independent audit. He admits that’s an unusual but necessary step to figure out what’s going on.