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Mitoma Broke Law by Failing to List Loans From Banker : Carson: Political practices agency won't impose fines because the statute of limitations has passed. The mayor was cleared of a conflict-of-interest charge.

April 02, 1992|ANTHONY MILLICAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Carson Mayor Michael I. Mitoma violated the state's economic disclosure law by twice failing to report $60,000 in loans from a banking associate in the late 1980s, the state's Fair Political Practices Commission announced this week.

However, the commission will not pursue sanctions against the mayor because the statute of limitations relating to the violations has expired, commission spokeswoman Carol Thorp said.

The agency cleared Mitoma of conflict-of-interest allegations, determining that the mayor properly disqualified himself from participating in decisions relating to a mobile home park co-owned by the banking associate, James Bradley.

Mitoma said he had not yet been notified of the findings from the commission, which announced the decision Tuesday in a letter addressed to the mayor.

"Obviously, I failed to report the loan," Mitoma said, adding that he has filed an amendment to his economic disclosure forms to correct the oversight.

The mayor's borrowing came to light when he was sued by Bradley in 1989 for allegedly failing to repay $20,000 of the $60,000 personal loan. Bradley is chairman of Pacific Business Bank in Carson, where Mitoma served as president and chairman from 1982 to 1989.

The investigation of Mitoma was prompted by a complaint last November alleging that Mitoma violated provisions of the state's Political Reform Act.

The Times reported in January that Mitoma owed Bradley $60,000 in personal loans when the mayor renominated and voted to approve Bradley for a second term on the Planning Commission in 1987.

That same year, court documents showed that Mitoma also borrowed money from two members of the bank's board of directors, $30,000 from Craig Ota and $7,000 from Ted Asato, but failed to report the loans on his financial disclosure statements.

The political practices commission ruling made no mention of those transactions, and Bradley said he was never contacted by the commission about the loans he made to Mitoma.

The agency determined that Mitoma failed to properly report in 1987 and 1988 that he owed Bradley $60,000. Because the statute of limitations only covers a four-year period, no enforcement action will be taken against Mitoma, Thorp said.

Mitoma maintains that because the money was lent to him personally and there were no written agreements concerning the funds, he did not believe he had to list any of the loans on the financial disclosure forms all elected officials must file annually.

Additionally, in an interview Wednesday, he said the Ota loan was used as a down payment on his principal place of residence and therefore did not have to be reported.

However, in Mitoma's sworn deposition in the lawsuit, he said he might have used the money from Ota to repay money borrowed from other bank directors or to repay debt incurred from his shock absorber business.

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