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THE STATE

How D.A.'s Office Failed to Follow Up on Graft Allegations

An influential L.A. lobbyist's name surfaced in accounts of bribery and other illegality, but leads were dismissed. He denies any wrongdoing.

October 23, 2003|Ralph Frammolino, Nicholas Riccardi and Ted Rohrlich | Times Staff Writers

A month later, Cooley released his report on Belmont, which said prosecutors had left "no stone unturned" in their search for wrongdoing.

At the time, the D.A. lamented the lack of indictments.

"Would I have liked to haul someone in by the collar? Absolutely, yes," he told reporters. "We had to go where the facts led us."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday November 01, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 79 words Type of Material: Correction
Robbery case -- An article in Section A on Oct. 23 about shortcomings in a corruption investigation by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office inaccurately described an unrelated robbery case. The article reported that a deputy district attorney in the corruption probe was reassigned to prosecute a vagrant on 20 counts of robbery. In fact, the case involved two defendants charged with 33 counts of armed robbery, attempted robbery, assault with a gun and false imprisonment by violence.

Two months later, the school board voted to spend an additional $111 million to revive the Belmont project.

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Who's involved in the case

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Below are the key characters in a secret chapter of the district attorney's Belmont investigation:

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The Lobbyist-Businessman

Art M. Gastelum, above: An accomplished political fund-raiser, he was the subject of an incomplete investigation by the district attorney's office.

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The Prosecutor

Matt Dalton: The deputy district attorney quit in frustration because he believed that his superiors

hadn't pursued significant leads about Gastelum.

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The Informant

Clark Davis: The lobbyist worked with the D.A.'s office and says a commissioner pressured him to give Gastelum's daughter the right to run a store at LAX.

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The Commissioner

Leland Wong: A mayoral appointee and close friend of Gastelum who suggested that the businessman's daughter be a candidate to run a store at LAX.

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The Water Board President

Jaime Bonilla: The San Diego-area businessman who worked with the FBI and secretly recorded Gastelum discussing how to arrange a $1-million payoff.

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Source: Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

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