Nearly two years after Orange County declared bankruptcy, the central figure in the case, former Treasurer-Tax Collector Robert L. Citron, has been given a year in jail and a $100,000 fine. In many ways the county's journey from boom to bust was Citron's personal story, even though there was a large cast of financial consultants, inattentive officials and victims. His sentencing closed another chapter of the long-running saga.
Citron once was a proud and respected figure in municipal finance, not just in Southern California but nationally. Having acquired substantial financial decision-making power and having won the confidence of investors, he committed a staggering breach of public trust, especially as he sought to cover his mounting losses. By the time he stood trembling before Superior Court Judge J. Stephen Czuleger on Tuesday, he had been reduced to a frail, pathetic figure. At a sentencing hearing the day before, Citron was described by psychologists as mentally impaired and some who knew him well spoke of his deterioration. In the end, after being a target of anger for so long, he became a source of pity even for many who had suffered from his wrong-way investment bets.