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Egan, in Jail, Still Drawing Council Salary

September 25, 1986|GEORGE STEIN | Times Staff Writer

Convicted Carson Councilman Walter J. (Jake) Egan has put in 18 minutes at council meetings since July. For that work, he has received $2,774.02.

The arithmetic works out to $154.11 a minute.

Egan, 45, who was found guilty on July 11 of mail fraud and extortion, will lose his office and salary when his conviction is entered into court records upon sentencing, unless his motion for a new trial is granted. Until then, under state law, he will not lose the office unless he misses meetings for 60 days or more without being excused.

Egan, whose bail was revoked Sept. 16, is in the Terminal Island federal jail and could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Robert B. Gaunt, said the money is not the issue.

"The kind of money you are talking about is peanuts," he said. The attorney said Egan, who is seeking a new trial, was briefly attending council meetings during the summer "to save his position" through a record of attendance.

'Indebted to the Hilt'

Egan, who owns a muffler repair shop in Torrance, "is indebted to the hilt," the attorney said. Egan has said that his legal bills have exceeded $25,000.

In addition to ending regular attendance at council meetings, Egan stopped participating as a council member in other ways, according to two senior city officials who asked to remain anonymous.

At the end of June, the councilman ended his practice of almost daily visits to City Hall to work on city business, one official said. About that time, Egan asked that his nameplate be taken off his office door, his picture removed from the entrance to City Hall and his name eliminated from his reserved spot in the City Hall parking lot.

One official said Egan stopped calling city employees with constituent requests at the end of June. Another said Egan began giving away mementos from his office.

Egan's last official act at council meetings occurred Sept. 2, shortly after the meeting was called to order at 6:32 p.m.

The councilman led the flag salute. That was it. Three minutes after the meeting began, Egan left, according to City Clerk Helen Kawagoe.

Two weeks later, U.S. District Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez revoked Egan's bond and he was sent to Terminal Island.

The judge took the action after listening to testimony that Egan had made threats against Carson Councilwomen Vera Robles DeWitt, who had testified as a prosecution witness at Egan's trial, and Kay Calas.

Although Egan is in jail, he will remain on the city payroll until he is off the council, according to City Atty. Glenn Watson. He continues to receive his council salary, $671.34 a month, but the city treasurer's office has stopped paying the $300 a month for expenses that council members receive, on the theory that city business was not being conducted behind bars.

In his motion for a new trial, Egan asserts that the chief witness against him, convicted political corrupter W. Patrick Moriarty, gave perjured testimony. A hearing on the motion is set for Oct. 27.

If a new trial is granted, the conviction will be overturned. If it is denied, Egan could be sentenced immediately or a sentencing hearing could be scheduled.

Council Can Excuse Absence

If Egan remains in jail and his absences are not excused, the 60-day period from his last excused absence, the Sept. 15 meeting, will end Nov. 14. Mayor Sylvia Muise said the council would decide whether to excuse Egan if he asked to be excused. She would not comment on whether she favors excusing Egan while he in in jail.

"Up until this point, a council person has always been excused when they have requested it. We have never pried into the reasons for it," Muise said." She said that Egan had been excused for all his absences "becaused he asked to be."

Egan's trial centered on accusations that the councilman extorted between $30,000 and $40,000 from Moriarty for personal use and to build a political power base. In exchange, Egan promised to support Moriarty's plan to build a mobile home park at the site of a former Carson landfill, according to testimony.

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