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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

Ex-Tax Collector Gets Prison for Taking Bribes

September 28, 2000

SAN BERNARDINO — Thomas O'Donnell, San Bernardino County treasurer-tax collector from 1987 to 1998, was sentenced Wednesday to a year and a day in federal prison for accepting bribes.

O'Donnell, 67, of Carlsbad, is the latest defendant to be sentenced in a San Bernardino County corruption case involving four former top officials and three businessmen.

U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson also fined O'Donnell $5,000 and ordered him to pay $7,158 in restitution. He must also spend two years on supervised probation, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Edward Moreton.

O'Donnell pleaded guilty to one count of bribery, along with James Hlawek, former county administrative officer, and Sol Levin, former county investment officer, O'Donnell admitted accepting a $4,000 bribe and a 1997 trip to London in exchange for helping to steer government contracts worth $372,000 to consultant Richard Tisdale, 60, of North Carolina. He also took county reimbursement for trips that Tisdale paid for, Moreton said.

Prosecutors had sought a two-year sentence, he said. The sentence is almost the same as that imposed earlier on Levin. Prosecutors argued that O'Donnell's sentence should have been greater than Levin's, since O'Donnell was elected and oversaw Levin, who was appointed.

Santa Ana attorney Robert Hartmann, who represented O'Donnell, said the sentence was fair.

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