Receive 10- and 6-year Sentences
mayor of Lynwood, California was sentenced this afternoon to 188
months in federal prison, which is believed to be the longest sentence
issued in a federal political corruption case.
Paul H. Richards
II received the sentence after being convicted last year of a host
of federal corruption charges related to a scheme that defrauded
city residents by funneling city business, including exorbitant
no-bid contracts, to a "consulting company" controlled
by him and his family.
was remanded into custody at the conclusion of this afternoon's
sentencing hearing before United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner.
Richards served as a Lynwood city councilman, which included seven
stints as mayor, from 1986 until he was recalled in a special election
in September 2003.
jury trial, Richards was found guilty on November 1, 2005 of 20
counts of "honest services" mail fraud for depriving Lynwood
residents of his honest services while serving as an elected official.
In addition to the "honest services" mail fraud counts,
the federal jury convicted Richards of five counts of mail fraud,
extortion, eight counts of money laundering and making a false statement
to government investigators.
presented at trial showed that Richards set up a consulting firm,
ostensibly owned by his sister, that was awarded a series of unnecessary
and exorbitant consulting contracts that had the potential to cause
the City of Lynwood to lose more than $6 million.
Two Richards associates convicted at trial were also sentenced today.
sister, Paula Cameo Harris, a 57-year-old Altadena resident, who
purportedly served as the president and owner of Allied Government
Services (AGS), the company Richards set up to obtain consulting
contracts with Lynwood, was sentenced to 72 months in prison;
- Bevan Atlee
Thomas, a 57-year-old resident of Anaheim, a former consultant
to Lynwood, who allegedly obtained a $25,000 per month consulting
contract with Lynwood, which he secretly subcontracted to AGS,
was sentenced to 119 months in prison.
and Thomas participated in a scheme to defraud the citizens of Lynwood
of their right to Richards' honest services. AGS's primary source
of revenue was three lucrative contracts initiated and approved
In the first
contract, Thomas obtained a "nuisance abatement" consulting
contract in 1999. Under this contract, Thomas would be paid up to
$25,000 per month for performing consulting services and nuisance
abatement work for the city. However, Thomas secretly subcontracted
his work to AGS, which then subcontracted to other friends of Richards,
including his personal gardener. Lynwood taxpayers ended up paying
five times what they should have for the work performed.
In the second
contract, Richards forced the city's trolley operator, Commuter
Bus Lines (CBL), to retain AGS as a "transportation consultant"
in exchange for receiving a five-year extension of CBL's contract
with Lynwood. CBL had agreed to hire its own consultant and to pay
for the cost. But when the city insisted that CBL hire AGS at $7,500
per month, CBL objected and demanded increased fees to pay AGS.
The city, led by Richards, agreed. Although AGS performed little
or no work for CBL under the agreement, the city authorized CBL
to pay AGS more than $60,000.
In the third
contract, Richards orchestrated a deal between Lynwood and AGS in
which AGS became the city's exclusive representative to negotiate
a contract for the construction of billboards along the Century
Freeway (I-105). In exchange for representing the city, AGS would
be paid a 20 percent contingency fee, and the city would pay all
of its expenses. Before AGS received this contract, Richards had
already given his tentative approval to a multi-million dollar billboard
project with Regency Outdoor Advertising. Because the billboard
deal was largely pre-negotiated by Richards, AGS stood to earn $960,000
for no actual work except hiring one of Richards' friends as its
attorney. AGS sought no competing bids for the billboard project.
trial, a lobbyist for Regency testified that he gave Richards an
illegal $7,500 campaign contribution while Richards was negotiating
the billboard contract. That lobbyist, David N. Smith, a 65-year-old
resident of Palmdale, previously pleaded guilty to making a corrupt
payment to Richards and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 10,
As a result
of the three contracts with AGS, Richards violated his duties to
the city by, among other ways, failing to disclose his interest
benefitting AGS and Thomas. Richards specifically benefitted in
the following ways, among others:
- AGS and
Thomas satisfied debts for campaign literature for Richards's
political campaign and the campaigns of allies;
- AGS and
Thomas gave contributions to a political action committee set
up by Richards' sister and nephew, with that money being used
to fund political campaigns of Richards' allies in Compton, who
supported a real estate development Richards was pursuing in Compton;
- AGS paid
for an improvement on a Richards home in Cerritos;
- AGS paid
a salary to Harris, who distributed the funds to other members
of Richards' family;
- AGS paid
a salary to Richards' nephew, who performed personal projects
for Richards while on the AGS payroll; and
- Harris withdrew
large sums of cash from AGS' bank account, which corresponded
to large sums of cash deposited by Richards into his personal
convicted of 18 counts of mail fraud, four counts of money laundering,
and one count of perjury for lying to a federal grand jury.
found guilty of nine counts of mail fraud, four counts of money
laundering, two counts of bribery and one count of perjury for lying
to a federal grand jury.
This case was
investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS -Criminal