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Orange County

D.A. Investigates Seal Beach Votes

Probe: Councilman Shawn Boyd had ties to owner in trailer park sale that got city backing.

October 13, 2001|JEAN O. PASCO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Orange County district attorney's office has opened an investigation into whether Seal Beach City Councilman Shawn Boyd violated state conflict-of-interest laws by voting on a project involving a business associate.

Investigators will probe Boyd's relationship with Richard Hall, who last year sold the Seal Beach Trailer Park to a nonprofit group with city financing. The group paid $7.4 million, using city-backed bonds and a state grant, which it will repay from future rents.

Investigators opened the probe this week, district attorney spokeswoman Tori Richards said Friday.

Boyd voted seven times and abstained four times on park matters without disclosing his ties to Hall, who bought the park in December 1998 for about $3.5 million. Boyd said he didn't reveal that he was working with Hall on at least two real estate projects because he hasn't yet been paid for his work.

Complaints against Boyd were lodged with the district attorney's office and the state Fair Political Practices Commission last month by Seal Beach resident Laura Brecht.

Boyd said Friday that he hadn't been told of the district attorney's investigation.

"I believe I've complied with the law," he said. "It's the right of every citizen to raise this question if they want. . . . I guess I would be [nervous] if I had something to hide, but I don't."

State law bars elected officials who received $500 or more in income within the previous year from voting or influencing decisions on matters that could financially benefit the giver. The prohibition includes money paid to or formally promised to officials.

In an interview last month, Boyd said he did not reveal his relationship with Hall because he did not consider it a conflict of interest. He said he has a verbal agreement to be paid $12,000 for acting as Hall's agent on a Castaic mobile-home park project. He said he also expects $4,000 from an aborted apartment project in Anaheim, for which he acted as Hall's developer.

The investigation is the second this year to probe possible conflict-of-interest violations by local officials. Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas is investigating similar allegations against Huntington Beach Councilman Dave Garofalo.

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Times staff writer Stan Allison contributed to this report.

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