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Hill Defended After Indictment

April 29, 1993|RENEE TAWA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY — City officials in the district represented by state Sen. Frank Hill (R-Whittier) say he has served them well and expressed surprise at his federal indictment for allegedly extorting money from special interests in exchange for his support.

"He was the first senator in the 15 years I've been here that maintained good, open lines of communication and contact," said Fran Delash, Covina assistant city manager.

"I'm shocked," said Arcadia City Manager Donald R. Duckworth. "He was somebody that made good sense, that would meet with the council and meet with the staff and be counted on to be helpful . . . when we had concerns about what was going through the (state) system. Frank Hill was a ray of light."

Hill's district includes all or part of 23 cities in the east and central San Gabriel Valley. He was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday, along with Assemblyman Pat Nolan (R-Glendale) and lobbyist Terry Frost. Hill and Nolan became the first Republican lawmakers to be charged in an ongoing investigation of political corruption in the Capitol. They were secretly videotaped taking checks from an undercover FBI agent, the indictment said.

Hill, 39, was charged with three counts of extortion, conspiracy and money laundering, in connection with allegedly taking a $2,500 honorarium in 1988 from an FBI agent posing as a Southern businessman. In a printed statement, Hill said he is innocent of the charges. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail and a fine.

Hill was elected to the Assembly in 1982 and to the Senate in 1991. He is vice chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and a key Republican budget negotiator.

Hill's budget expertise has been invaluable in helping Duarte cope with the state's budget crisis, City Manager Jesse H. Duff said. Hill has met with the city staff several times to explain the impact on local governments and always takes calls from city officials, he said.

"We could always count on Sen. Hill to be open and honest with us on the state budget situation," Duff said. "He certainly hasn't attempted to sugarcoat the situation."

Walnut Mayor William T. Choctaw said he has attended Hill's briefings for local officials on the state budget impasse.

"I've been impressed with him in terms of his honesty, his hard work and his candor," Choctaw said.

In Monrovia, City Manager Rod Gould said Hill met with local city and Chamber of Commerce officials in March to discuss his efforts on worker's compensation reform.

La Verne City Manager Martin R. Lomeli said Hill has sponsored a bill that could save the city about $200,000 a year. The bill would change the formula used to calculate the amount of property-tax revenue that city redevelopment agencies give to the state. The bill, which is pending in a Senate committee, would help La Verne, Walnut and a few other cities that have what Lomeli called unfair tax burdens.

"He would work with us to try and push for budget solutions that didn't take as much money from us as they would in the past," Lomeli said.

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