A top Riordan administration appointee is under criminal investigation for soliciting a teenage prostitute, impersonating a police officer and alleged conflicts of interest connected to his position, officials said Wednesday.
Scott Z. Adler, who was appointed president of the city's Building and Safety Commission shortly after Mayor Richard Riordan took office in 1993, resigned his post abruptly last week after being searched in connection with the prostitution case, citing "personal reasons including my family's current desire" to live in Santa Monica.
But spokesmen in the Police Department and the mayor's office confirmed that Adler's exit was triggered by the twin investigations by LAPD's Administrative Vice and Bunco-Forgery divisions. No formal charges have been filed against Adler, but the vice case is in the hands of city prosecutors and the conflict of interest case could be submitted to the district attorney's office by week's end, officials said.
"He was, obviously, shocked," Riordan chief of staff Robin Kramer said of her boss's reaction to the news.
Adler, 40, a lawyer and land developer, did not return repeated calls for comment Wednesday.
LAPD officials would not release details of the conflict of interest allegations.
A review of city records shows that Adler has vast real estate holdings throughout the San Fernando Valley and scores of business dealings in many parts of the city bureaucracy. He and his business partner Mark Armbruster--a Riordan appointee to the Environmental Affairs Commission--have contributed thousands of dollars to local political candidates in recent years.
Located in Bel-Air, Armbruster & Adler is both a law firm and a land developer. Over the past year, the firm has earned $325,000 lobbying Los Angeles city officials on behalf of a dozen clients, ranging from Motorola Inc. to Union Federal Bank to the Century Supper Club, according to records filed with the city's Ethics Commission. During the first quarter of this year, Adler's firm ranked fifth among the city's 107 registered lobbyists, earning $80,754 over three months.
On his financial disclosure forms, Adler lists himself as a partner in nine different housing developments--in Granada Hills, Sylmar, North Hills, Van Nuys, Sepulveda and Studio City--each worth more than $100,000 (the highest category on the form) as well as owner of properties in Playa Del Rey and Santa Monica.
Since 1991, Adler, Armbruster or their firm have donated $21,290 to 22 local politicians, according to campaign contribution statements filed with the Ethics Commission.
Kramer said the conflict of interest investigation was triggered by an anonymous tip to the mayor's office in February. Riordan contacted Police Chief Willie L. Williams directly, Kramer said, adding that Williams asked the mayor not to fire Adler until the LAPD's investigation was complete.
Bunco-Forgery has still not finished its research, but last week's revelations regarding the prostitution led the mayor--with Williams' OK--to ask for Adler's resignation.
Administrative Vice Det. Keith Haight said LAPD was tipped to Adler's involvement with the underage hooker May 7 during a separate investigation into a prostitution ring of two 17-year-old high school students and a 20-year-old woman in Van Nuys.
Adler, who is married, allegedly "engaged in an act of prostitution with one of the 17-year-old prostitutes" April 20, according to a LAPD press release. "During the encounter, Adler allegedly displayed his commissioner badge and made statements inferring he was a police officer and had come to the location to arrest her. Adler also allegedly told the 17-year-old that he could help her if she was ever arrested."
LAPD officers searched Adler May 29, and seized his badge, badge holder and Building and Safety business card, a copy of which he allegedly left with the prostitute. Police handed the case to prosecutors May 31--one day after informing Riordan.
Times staff writer Jim Newton contributed to this story.