LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A federal appellate panel reversed fraud and money laundering convictions against a now-jailed former South Gate treasurer and a local businessman, sending the case back to a lower court for new proceedings.
Ex-treasurer Albert Robles and local businessman George Garrido were implicated in two schemes to award South Gate city contracts to particular companies while reaping benefits for themselves.
A Los Angeles federal jury convicted the men in 2005 of various corruption charges. The following year, Robles, who had previously been recalled by voters, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison and Garrido to more than four years.
In its ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena reversed more than a dozen honest services mail and wire fraud convictions against Robles and Garrido, reversed Robles’ money laundering convictions and affirmed Robles’ bribery convictions.
Robles’ appellate attorney, Thomas Kiley, said he was “gratified” about the ruling, noting that the appeals court let stand bribery convictions against his client.
At this point, Robles “will have to decide whether to pursue further appeal on those counts,” Kiley said.
Robles, now 48, is scheduled for release from federal prison in 2015. Garrido, who was convicted of five counts of honest services mail fraud, has been free on bail while the appeal was pending. The appeals court overturned three of his convictions and acquitted him of the two other counts.
The panel issued its opinion after the Supreme Court narrowed the scope of honest services mail fraud, according to the 34-page opinion written by Judge Harry Pregerson.
“The indictment, the jury instructions, and the closing arguments at trial were permeated” with reversible error with regard to the fraud charges, Pregerson wrote.
A federal grand jury in 2004 indicted Robles on 39 counts of money laundering, bribery, wire fraud and public corruption, alleging that he used his elected office and political influence to funnel money from city projects to family and friends between 1998 and 2003.
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