Two former Lynwood City Councilmen sentenced to state prison for misappropriating public funds
They paid themselves up to $40,000 annually
COMPTON, Calif.—Two former Lynwood city councilmen were sentenced today to state prison for misappropriating public funds.
Compton Superior Court Judge Eleanor Hunter ordered Louis Byrd, 80, to serve five years in prison, and Fernando Pedroza, 47, to serve four years behind bars.
The two were convicted July 27 of one count each of misappropriation of public funds.
Prosecutors said that Byrd misappropriated $330,000 for his personal use and that Pedroza misappropriated more than $160,000, including a $1,500 charge by Pedroza on a city credit card to pay for a visit to a gentleman's club while on a sister city conference trip in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Under one scheme, they paid themselves up to $40,000 annually—along with their council pay—for participating in two city agencies, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Prosecutors countered that they were not entitled to additional pay for service in conjunction with the Lynwood Public Finance Authority and Lynwood Information, Inc.
The two have been jailed since just after the jury's verdict.
The two were on the city council when they were charged in April 2007 along with former councilman Arturo Reyes, who pleaded guilty in September 2008 to a felony count of grand theft. Reyes is still awaiting sentencing.
Byrd, then the city's mayor, and Pedroza were recalled in September 2007 in an election prompted by the allegations of corruption.
The case stemmed from a four-year investigation into the council's handling of public funds. The investigation was launched after Faustino Gonzales, who had been placed on leave as Lynwood city manager, approached the District Attorney's Office and met with Dave Demerjian, head deputy of the District Attorney's Public Integrity Division.
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