COMPTON — The wife of Mayor Walter R. Tucker met more legal trouble this week when state prosecutors filed nine grand theft and embezzlement charges that accuse her of taking $117,500 over the past four years from investors in some Georgia mobile home parks.
The charges promptly scuttled a proposed plea bargain that Martha Tucker, 51, and her sister, Barbara Hall, 44, had hoped to reach in a separate case of alleged real estate fraud and forgery stemming from their operation of Mattco Financial Inc., a local business owned by the mayor.
In that case, the women are accused of taking $45,000 from a wheelchair-bound Long Beach man who had given them an escrow deposit and down payment toward the purchase of a Los Angeles apartment building in 1985. When the sale fell through, the women failed to return the money until after criminal charges were filed early this year, authorities said.
On Tuesday, a preliminary hearing on the seven previously filed real estate fraud charges in the apartment building case was postponed so that the new felony counts could be added, Assistant Atty. Gen. Terry T. Fujimoto said. Tucker's arraignment on the mobile home park charges is scheduled for Sept. 16. Both women have pleaded innocent in the real estate fraud case.
If convicted, Tucker could receive up to 18 years in state prison and Hall could receive up to seven years.
Neither Tucker nor defense attorney Walter R. Tucker III, the mayor's son, could be reached for comment.
Six of the new charges state that when the mayor's wife was a general partner in a company called First Southeastern Properties, she allegedly embezzled $90,000 from eight Los Angeles County investors. The embezzlements date from December, 1982.
Among the investors was Minnie Poindexter, a single mother and former Compton resident who works for the state Department of Industrial Relations. In an interview this week, she said she gave Tucker $10,000 after meeting her through a group called The New Image Committee, which sought to improve Compton's public image.
"I was very interested in changing the (city's) image from something negative to something positive," Poindexter said, in describing her interest in the committee.
Poindexter said Tucker eventually invited her and others to invest in a pair of mobile home parks near Cartersville, Ga., northwest of Atlanta, allegedly promising that they would receive profits of at least 200% plus quarterly dividends of $500. "It sounded like a good thing," Poindexter said.
But the dividends never materialized, Poindexter said. And when she asked Tucker for her money back, the mayor's wife gave her only "excuses."
Three other charges allege that Tucker committed grand theft in February, 1986, by taking a total of $27,500 from three other investors, including Henry Talbert of Culver City.
Talbert, retired western regional director of the national Urban League, said last week that he also gave Tucker $10,000 to invest in Georgia mobile home parks.
"I haven't received one penny back," Talbert said.