Monday, September 8, 2003
Order That Ex-Colton Mayor Turn Bribe Money Over to City Upheld
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A city is a crime victim when one of its officials takes a bribe, so the official must pay the amount of the bribe as restitution following conviction, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday.
The panel upheld a ruling by U.S. District Judge Lourdes G. Baird of the Central District of California that former Colton Mayor Karl Gaytan owes the city $61,506.63 in restitution.
That is the amount Gaytan admitted receiving from Laguna Beach developer Allan Steward in exchange for the ex-mayor’s support on votes related to a restaurant complex and real estate development in the city.
Gaytan pled guilty and is now serving a 15-month prison term. Steward pled guilty to charges arising from another bribe scheme, involving San Bernardino County Supervisor Gerald Eaves, and—as part of a deal with prosecutors—was not charged with bribing Gaytan.
Gaytan—a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for the Assembly in 1998, finishing last in a five-way primary won by then-Rialto Mayor, now Assemblyman, John Longville—is currently nearing release and is confined to a halfway house in Southern California, according to the Bureau of Prisons’ online locator system.
Gaytan’s attorney, Nicolas DePento of San Diego, argued that it was “speculative and conjectural” to treat Gaytan’s ill-gotten gains as “actual losses” suffered by the city. But Baird disagreed, as did the appellate panel.
“The City of Colton lost the honest service of a public servant whose vote was purchased by developers seeking approvals for their projects which, when authorized, entitled them to tax rebates, loans, and loan guarantees.” Judge Richard Tallman wrote for the Ninth Circuit.
Tallman cited United States v. Gamma Tech Indus., Inc., 265 F.3d 917, a 2001 case involving kickbacks on Navy contracts. The Ninth Circuit held that an agent may be ordered, as restitution in a criminal case, to disgorge to the principal secret profits obtained in the course of the principal-agent relationship.
Under California law, Tallman reasoned, Gaytan was an employee of the city, so anything of monetary value that he gained as a result of that employment, other than his salary, belonged to the city.
Judge Johnnie B. Rawlinson and Senior Judge John T. Noonan joined in the opinion.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Edwad Moreton Jr. argued the case for the government.
The case is United States v. Gaytan, 03-50377.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company