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Council OK of Inquiry on Bradley Seen : Approval Expected for Hahn Report Indicating No Criminal Activity

August 31, 1989|BILL BOYARSKY and FREDERICK M. MUIR | Times Staff Writers

Although the City Council's Ethics Committee will review the upcoming city attorney report on Mayor Tom Bradley's finances, council members seem willing to accept an anticipated finding that would absolve the mayor of criminal wrongdoing, according to interviews with lawmakers Wednesday.

Some key findings in the still-to-be-completed report by City Atty. James K. Hahn were revealed by The Times Wednesday. It was learned that Hahn has decided that Bradley should be fined for improperly reporting to government officials on his personal finances. But so far, sources said, Hahn's investigators have found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Councilman Michael Woo, chairman of the special Ethics Committee formed to look into the Bradley matter, said his staff and fellow committee members will examine the Hahn report when it is released, possibly in mid-September.

Big Question

The big question facing Bradley is whether the council will accept a Hahn finding that the mayor did not violate conflict-of-interest laws in his relations with Far East National Bank or whether the council will conduct further hearings and its own investigation. To go beyond the report, the full council would have to vote to launch a new inquiry, either by the Woo committee or some other body, or would have to formally ask the city attorney to take another look at the situation.

Bradley, who was paid $18,000 a year as a member of Far East's advisory board, telephoned City Treasurer Leonard Rittenberg last year inquiring about city deposits in the bank. After the call, Rittenberg deposited $2 million in city funds in the bank. The mayor and the treasurer said there was no mayoral pressure behind Rittenberg's action.

"I always felt that the mayor was a man of integrity and honesty," said Councilman Hal Bernson, who added that he believes that Bradley will be damaged politically by the report.

"I guess he won't run again," said Bernson, echoing a common feeling at City Hall.

Interviews with other council members, including Gilbert Lindsay, Robert Farrell and Richard Alatorre, showed more support for Bradley.

Also considered supportive of the mayor are Marvin Braude and Ernani Bernardi, which would appear to make it unlikely that a majority of the 15-member City Council would vote to go beyond the Hahn findings.

But the reaction of the council did not remove Bradley from legal and political troubles.

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether Bradley violated insider trading laws in his stock investments. Federal officials are far from completing their investigation of Bradley, sources told The Times.

In addition, two important reports on the Bradley matter will be released soon by City Controller Rick Tuttle.

One deals with Bradley's phone call to Rittenberg. With testimony for the report taken under oath from the mayor and other key figures, the report may shed more light on the incident.

The second report is an audit of a Bradley Administration task force designed to promote local trade with African nations. It became the subject of investigation when its head, Juanita St. John, a business partner of Bradley, could not account to the controller for $180,000 in city funds given to the task force.

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