Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Ex-Judge, Former Mayor Dorn Accepts Public Reproval From S.C.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Roosevelt Dorn has been publicly reproved by the California Supreme Court.
The high court last week approved a stipulation between Dorn and the State Bar in which the ex-jurist and former Inglewood mayor acknowledged that he pled guilty to a misdemeanor conflict-of-interest charge last year.
The stipulation was previously approved by State Bar Court Judge Richard Platel. It requires Dorn to file probation reports for a year, to pay costs of the State Bar’s investigation, and to take an ethics course.
He will not be required to pass the multistate ethics exam, however. Platel found that requirement to be unnecessary because Dorn resigned as mayor and agreed never to seek public office again, so that the conduct will not recur.
The penalty was appropriate, according to the stipulation and order, because Dorn—who was admitted to the State Bar in 1970—had no prior discipline, had cooperated with investigators, and had not engaged in moral turpitude.
Dorn—the city’s first fulltime, executive mayor—submitted his resignation less than 24 hours before pleading guilty in January of last year.
The ex-jurist, who ended his 18-year judicial career following his election to the mayor’s post in 1997, admitted a violation of Government Code Sec. 1090, which makes it a crime for a public employee or official to personally benefit from a contract made in his or her official capacity.
Dorn, now 75, was sentenced to two years probation and fined $1,000 plus penalty assessments by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George Lomeli.
The Sec. 1090 charge was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, and two felony charges of misappropriating public funds were dropped, as part of a plea agreement.
Dorn was charged in June 2008 in connection with a low-interest loan he obtained through the City of Inglewood in 2004. Prosecutors said Dorn had a law modified in order to become eligible for a city program that offered low-interest housing to executive non-elected municipal employees in order to enable them to obtain housing within the city.
The change in the law extended the program to elected officials. The change was repealed in November 2006, after residents complained that extending the program to elected officials was unfair and unnecessary—since those officials had to live in the city in any event—and that it violated the City Charter.
Dorn, who later said he relied on advice of city administrators, obtained a $500,000 loan through the program in November 2004, about five months after the law was changed. His 30-year loan came with a variable interest rate of 2.39 percent, much less than the market rate, prosecutors said.
Dorn used the funds to pay off his mortgage and allegedly put the remaining $266,000 in the bank, prosecutors said. Records show he repaid the loan in October 2006.
If convicted on all counts, he could have been sentenced to more than four years in prison.
Dorn was an Inglewood Municipal Court judge from 1979 to 1980 and a Superior Court judge from 1980 until he resigned to become mayor.
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