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South Bay Digest

Hawthorne : DA Reviewing Mitsch Case

July 31, 1986

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office is reviewing a possible conflict of interest involving James H. Mitsch, the second-ranking official in the Hawthorne city administration, a deputy district attorney said this week.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Candace Beason said the review will examine indications that Mitsch's firm, Centinela Valley Engineering Co., performed surveys in the city, which she said would be a conflict of interest.

As Hawthorne's director of general services and public works, Mitsch, 48, reviews construction projects for developers, who routinely obtain surveys before buildings are constructed.

Mitsch denied that the firm did any surveys in the city.

However, Mitsch, who was ordered by City Manager Kenneth Jue to sever his connection with the firm in 1983, after a Los Angeles County Grand Jury had criticized it as a possible conflict of interest, has acknowledged running the firm for three years after he was told not to.

Jue has said he will "more than likely" impose a maximum 30-day suspension on Mitsch for disobedience, but added that he would leave any investigation of a possible conflict of interest to the district attorney's office.

Beason said that Hawthorne City Atty. Michael Adamson has pledged to cooperate with the district attorney's office, which will obtain documents and interview individuals connected with the situation.

Beason said the district attorney's office became interested in Mitsch's role in Centinela Valley Engineering after publication last week of an article in The Times "and other complaints we have had surrounding the same set of circumstances."

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