KEEP CRYING THAT NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL MONEY SIMPLY CANNOT BE CUT BECAUSE IT PROVIDES SUCH ESSENTIAL SERVICES. KEEP PUMPING TAXPAYER MONEY INTO THIS FAILED, WANNABEE SYSTEM, so the leaders can keep stealing all the money. I'd like to see the books for Lincoln Heights NC, myself!
VIDEO: ZUMA DOGG HATES TO BREAK IT TO YOU - Monday's Budget Hearing Recap
Concerned for the safety of several witnesses, prosecutors with the Los Angeles County district attorney's office obtained a grand jury indictment last month of a former Los Angeles neighborhood council president who had been charged in October with misappropriating city funds.
James Harris, who headed the Empowerment Congress Southwest Area Neighborhood Development Council in South Los Angeles, is the fifth neighborhood council leader to face criminal charges for misuse of taxpayer funds. The money had been allotted to the groups, which received $50,000 annually until this year when their budgets were reduced to $45,000. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Harris in mid-February, but Deputy Dist. Atty. Max Huntsman said the indictment would allow the case to go to trial more quickly.
At his arraignment Friday, Harris pleaded not guilty to four counts in the superseding indictment, which accused him of misappropriating $152,000, embezzlement and falsifying receipts and neighborhood council minutes (documentation required to justify a neighborhood council’s expenses.)
Huntsman said that because of Harris’ prior federal conviction for bank robbery in 1985 and two state felony robbery convictions in 1986, he could face up to 14 years in prison under California's three-strikes law. Harris’ lawyer could not immediately be reached.
According to Huntsman, Harris had contacted several witnesses in recent months. In one instance, Huntsman said Harris offered to send a car to pick up a witness and drive her to an undisclosed location to meet him.
“I think that would make anyone nervous if somebody's talking to them who has strike priors and alleged gang ties,” Huntsman said, adding there are a number of witnesses “who feel their safety is in danger.”