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August 06, 2014

L.A. Lobbyist Charged in Alleged Nonprofit Embezzlement

A former lobbyist and adviser to a Los Angeles City Council member was charged Tuesday with taking part in a scheme to funnel as much as $20,000 in public monies to another city official via a nonprofit organization, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Prosecutors said Rob Katherman and his wife, Marilyn Katherman, sent checks from the account of the Adopt a Stormdrain Foundation to cover personal and family expenses for Ronald Smith, a member of a regional water board who was arrested last week. Mr. Smith had allegedly pushed for the water body to provide paid sponsorships to the Torrance, Calif.-based charity, which works to reduce pollution from storm water runoff.

Mr. Katherman, a longtime lobbyist active in Los Angeles-area politics, stepped down Monday from his post advising City Councilman Curren Price on economic development. He denied the charges, which he contended arose from a vendetta by an Adopt a Stormdrain board member whom he declined to make the organization's president.

"I've written checks to nonprofits thinking they were for educational purposes, and I'm not quite sure how these checks got credited to Ron's family expenses," Mr. Katherman said.