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State Panel Fines Retired Judge $4,000 for Disclosure Lapses

May 10, 2003|Jean Guccione | Times Staff Writer

A retired South Bay judge who failed to report more than $200,000 worth of stock holdings to the state for two years while on the bench was ordered Friday to pay a $4,000 fine to the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

Thomas P. Allen Jr. signed a stipulation stating that he broke the law in 1998 and 1999 when he filed incomplete economic disclosure forms. The commission found the violations were deliberate but not an attempt by the judge to conceal his assets.

California judges and other elected officials are required by law to annually submit statements about their share holdings to the commission to avoid conflicts of interest. They must make public the companies in which they and their spouses own stock, the fair-market value of those stocks, and the dates they were bought and sold.

Commission documents describe nondisclosure as "a serious violation."

"One of the ways a litigant or any member of the public sees if a judge is in a position to be fair is to look at a judge's statement of economic interest," said Stephen Russo, chief of the commission's enforcement division.

"During the time in question, the public was not aware of the full extent of [Allen's] stock holdings," a commission document states. Under the stipulation, Allen agreed to pay the maximum penalty.

These were his first violations of the Political Reform Act, according to the commission.

Allen submitted incomplete forms for 1998 and 1999.

Then, when contacted by a commission lawyer in October 2000 to amend the filings, Allen "expressed his reluctance to expend the time and effort necessary to compile information regarding his stock holdings," according to commission documents.

Allen was contacted by commission staff over a two-year period before his filings completely reflected his investments, the documents said.

Instead of completing the required forms, he initially sent the commission a copy of a December 1998 statement from his broker. It listed 29 previously undisclosed investments.

A second amended filing in November 2000 revealed five more undisclosed investments that he owned and sold in 1998.

He filed his 1999 disclosure the same way. One amended statement revealed 33 undisclosed investments; a second one listed two more.

Allen, who was appointed to the South Bay Municipal Court in 1988, could not be reached Friday.

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