Crime & Justice

Port of LA police chief indicted on corruption charges

Chief Ronald Jerome Boyd faces 16 counts, charges ranging from wire fraud to tax evasion.
Chief Ronald Jerome Boyd faces 16 counts, charges ranging from wire fraud to tax evasion.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The police chief of the Port of Los Angeles was indicted Thursday on federal corruption charges stemming from his alleged ties to a technology company that was seeking a government contract at the port.

Chief Ronald Jerome Boyd faces 16 counts on charges ranging from wire fraud to tax evasion.

According to the indictment, Boyd was getting kickbacks from "Company X" in return for confidential information about a smartphone app — dubbed "Portwatch" — the PoLA was developing. The app would have been used to notify users of port emergencies and to allow them to report criminal activity.

The indictment alleges that in 2011, Boyd and two business partners formed BDB Digital Communications, which entered a revenue-sharing agreement with Company X that would net Boyd 13.33 percent of gross revenue of the sale of similar app, "Metrowatch," which would be marketed and sold to government agencies. All together, BDB stood to gain 40 percent of that revenue.

That agreement was contingent upon Boyd's help in securing the original Portwatch contract for Company X with the port.

In a 2011 email contained in the indictment, Boyd writes to one of his business partners, "LMAO! Keep them on the ropes... At least two cities have learned of my concept and LOVE the idea!!! Especially the potential revenue split."

Last October, Boyd "knowingly and willfully made a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement" to two FBI agents regarding his involvement in the Metrowatch project, the grand jury indictment alleges.

He also told the agents that BDB was created to sell body armor, and that those dealings had nothing to do with his job at the port.

Boyd is also charged with four counts of failing to file tax returns for his Torrance security business At Close Range, as well as five counts of tax evasion.

Prosecutors expect Boyd to surrender next week, according to The Associated Press.

This story has been updated.