HAWTHORNE — Former Planning Director Jim A. Marquez, who resigned last month in the face of a recommendation that he be fired, will be charged with two misdemeanor counts of conflict of interest, a prosecutor said this week.
Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Herbert Lapin said Tuesday that he will file a criminal complaint against Marquez today or soon thereafter. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.
Marquez, who has denied any wrongdoing, has in recent weeks declined comment about his troubles and could not be reached this week. His attorney, Robert Courtney, did not return repeated telephone calls.
Lapin said the first count against Marquez accuses him of "willfully, knowingly and unlawfully" using his position as planning director to influence planning commissioners and the City Council to pass an ordinance decreasing parking requirements.
Without the ordinance, which passed June 11, 1984, Marquez would have had to scale down plans for a 15-unit apartment building, now under construction, on Eucalyptus Avenue land owned by his wife and brother-in-law, Lapin said. Marquez was project director for the building at the time and is now also part-owner of the land.
The second count against Marquez, Lapin said, alleges a conflict of interest connected to design work that Marquez did on his own time in 1985 for a developer who wanted to put up a 49-unit apartment building in the 14100 block of Lemoli Avenue in Hawthorne.
The alleged conflict, Lapin said, is that Marquez, who did not report any design-related income or business connections on his 1985 financial reporting statement, prepared plans as a private designer that he or his subordinates in the planning department would have had to approve.
The developer, Rein O. Kuhr, told The Times that he and Marquez signed an agreement stating that Kuhr would pay Marquez and his associates $18,000 for design work and that $6,000 had been advanced as partial payment. Kuhr said he gave city investigators copies of the agreement.
Lapin said the charges will be based on a report prepared by the city attorney's office and the Police Department. Marquez's supervisor, Jim Mitsch, has said he relied on the same report when he recommended to City Manager Kenneth Jue that he fire Marquez.
Mitsch said that the report, which has not been released, outlined allegations that Marquez had performed off-duty work as a private designer involving smaller amounts of money for other projects in the city.
City officials began investigating Marquez after The Times questioned whether they knew that his plans for the apartment building hinged on approval of the new parking ordinance.
City Council members, planning commissioners and the city manager have all told The Times that Marquez never told them he had a financial stake in the ordinance that he was recommending.