Los Angeles's City Council is almost as corrupt as Cincinnati's these days. What's the country coming to?
Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price was charged with 10 counts of embezzlement, perjury and conflict of interest on Tuesday, becoming the latest in a years-long parade of elected city officials to face public corruption allegations from state or federal prosecutors.
Price, a 10-year veteran of the City Council, is accused of having a financial interest in development projects that he voted on, and receiving tens of thousands of dollars in medical benefits from the city for his now wife while he was still married to another woman, according to a news release from the L.A. County district attorney’s office.
He was charged with five counts of grand theft by embezzlement, three counts of perjury and two counts of conflict of interest, according to a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office.
The district attorney’s office alleges that Price’s wife, Del Richardson — founder of the consulting company Del Richardson & Associates — received “payments totaling more than $150,000 between 2019 and 2021 from developers before he voted to approve projects.” Price is also accused of failing to list income Richardson received on government financial disclosure forms, according to the release
“We have not seen the charges filed against Councilmember Curren Price. It’s highly unusual for charges like this to be brought up against a sitting City Council member without any prior notice or discussion,” Price spokesperson Angelina Valencia said Tuesday afternoon. “Curren Price is a long-standing public servant who has given his life to the city of Los Angeles. He looks forward to defending himself once he’s had an opportunity to address these charges.”
Price’s attorney, Dave Willingham, declined to comment, saying he had not seen the complaint. Price left the City Council chamber shortly after Tuesday’s meeting ended around 2 p.m.
The charges are the latest in a series of criminal allegations and scandals that have rocked City Hall. Last year, the leak of a conversation among City Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo and L.A. County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera containing racist remarks ended Martinez’s council career and drove Herrera from his post.
Earlier this year, Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas was found guilty of conspiracy, bribery and fraud for extracting benefits for his son from USC while voting on issues that benefited the school.
Councilmembers Mitch Englander and Jose Huizar also pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges in recent years following an FBI probe.
Price was one of several City Hall figures mentioned in the FBI probe that ensnared Huizar and Englander after he was named in a federal search warrant filed in November 2018. Federal prosecutors never brought charges against him.
A date has not been set for Price’s arraignment, and he is not going to be arrested, according to the district attorney’s office spokesperson. No information about the charges against him was available on the L.A. County Superior Court’s website as of Tuesday afternoon.