A former member of the Compton Unified School District board was charged with four felony counts of misusing public funds, including running up nearly $2,000 in debt on his school board credit card for a personal party.
Basil Kimbrew, 51, could face four years in prison if convicted of the criminal charges, Deputy Dist. Atty. Max Huntsman said Friday.
The credit card purchases allegedly took place in 2002, shortly after Kimbrew was forced to step down from the school board. He had pleaded no contest to a felony charge that he falsified his residency during the 1999 school board election. Authorities said he was a resident of Carson at the time. He was sentenced to three years' probation.
After leaving the board, Kimbrew ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Compton, campaigning in a bulletproof vest, and then became a political consultant.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday October 30, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 44 words Type of Material: Correction
Mayor of Compton -- An article in Monday's California section about charges of misusing public funds filed against Basil Kimbrew, a former Compton Unified School District board member, referred to Eric Perrodin as a former Compton mayor. Perrodin is the current mayor of Compton.
"I'm innocent," he said.
Kimbrew added that he "may have" mistakenly used the card, but "when the superintendent brought it to my attention, he asked me to pay it back, and I did."
He suggested that the criminal charges were retaliation for his role in raising money for the election of former Compton Mayor Eric Perrodin, who is a prosecutor in the district attorney's office.
In August, Perrodin was fined for failing to properly report $11,000 in political contributions from the chief of security for Death Row Records, the rap label founded by Marion "Suge" Knight.
Perrodin called Kimbrew's allegation "totally not true." Perrodin said he and three other Compton officials hired Kimbrew to coordinate absentee ballots but never to raise funds. "I never trusted him," Perrodin said. "Basil Kimbrew is a convicted felon and a habitual liar."
Kimbrew said that at his arraignment, scheduled for Tuesday in Glendale Superior Court, he planned to give the district attorney's office evidence that Perrodin and Carson Mayor James Dear, for whom he said he also raised money, failed to disclose campaign donations.
"I am going to give both of them up," Kimbrew said. "My job was to raise money; their job was to report what was raised."
Dear said that Kimbrew's wife worked on his mayoral campaign, but that Kimbrew never donated to it or solicited donations for it. He called Kimbrew's allegation "totally fabricated. The man is living in a fantasy world."
Kimbrew's wife, Jenny Bethune, who works for the county Sheriff's Department, is running for City Council in Carson.
Officials in the district attorney's office said the charges against Kimbrew were part of a continuing investigation into public corruption in Compton.
"There have been several investigations involving Compton, and there are more underway," said spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons. "We feel that citizens that elect local officials have the right to clean government."
In February, former Compton Mayor Omar Bradley and two other former city officials were convicted of felony corruption.
Kimbrew said he held a news conference last week asking authorities to look further into public corruption in Compton.
"I asked the D.A. and the FBI to look at how I was able to get Eric Perrodin elected, giving him money that he didn't report," Kimbrew said. "I guess they took my offer."