On Thursday, the city Ethics Commission approved $67,500 in penalties against a contributor to a 2011 City Council candidate's campaign and a supporter of former City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.
The commission ordered Juan Carlos Jaramillo to pay a $45,000 penalty for campaign finance violations.
Ethics Commission officials said he improperly funneled about $9,000
into the unsuccessful campaign of Rudy Martinez, a candidate for the 14th
district council seat in the 2011 city election. The 14th District includes Highland Park.
Jaramillo—allowed to contribute a maximum of $500—enlisted 18 employees of former City Councilman Nick Pacheco to contribute to Martinez's campaign in 2010, according to Ethics Commission Enforcement Director Neama Rahmani.
Jaramillo then reimbursed each of the employees, though in a couple of instances, he only returned part of the money, Rahmani said.
The employees he paid back were working for Pacheco, a former 14th district councilman. Jaramillo's own company, Financial Success, shares space with Pacheco's law offices in Mission Hills.
Rahmani said Jaramillo may have wanted to impress the candidate, who was attempting to unseat City Councilman Jose Huizar, by "portraying himself as a prolific fundraiser."
Jaramillo "believed that he could curry favor" with Martinez, Rahmani said, but he "couldn't articulate why he believed this."
There was also not enough evidence to tie the money laundering to either Martinez or Pacheco, Rahmani said.
The district attorney's office in January also closed its own investigation into the money-laundering allegations without filing any charges, according to Rahmani.
In a separate ethics violation case, the commission ordered businessman Onnik Mehrabian to pay penalties totaling $22,500 for failing to report and disclose information about two signs supporting Trutanich that Mehrabian financed.
The signs were put up in January and April 2013, amid Trutanich's failed bid to get re-elected.
Mehrabian paid for the signs, displayed on the side of a building on Riverside Drive and a billboard at Los Feliz Boulevard and Brunswick Avenue, Ethics Commission officials said.
Mehrabian is CEO of International Television Network and the founder of Glendale Kia. Each of the companies have leases allowing them to advertise at the two spots where the signs went up.
Mehrabian failed to make required disclosures about the signs to the Ethics Commission within 24 hours of displaying them, officials said.
He also did not include a disclaimer, including a required explanation of who paid for the advertisement.
—City News Service