Sunday, September 12, 2010

Leary: into each life a little rain must fall

by Tom Nadeau

Into each life a little rain must fall, which – if one is to judge by former Elk Grove city councilman Michael Leary’s stormy situation – will then be followed by thunder, lightning, high winds, sleet, snow, hail and a longish ice age.

Today, on the eve of his Sacramento County Superior Court trial on fraud charges and shortly after he filed a civil suit alleging his ex-girlfriend and a title company defrauded him of thousands of dollars, Leary now stands accused by the state Fair Political Practices Commission of money-laundering and campaign fraud.

Leary has pleaded innocent to all charges brought in People v. Leary, #09F07685, including bribery.

If convicted, Leary’s maximum possible penalty would be four years and four months in state prison. The minimum possible penalty Leary faces would be a period of probation, Deputy District Attorney Mike Blazina said.

The 50-year-old Leary could also be fined up to $75,000.

It came to light last week that Leary has himself filed a civil countersuit – Leary v. North American Title Company, et al, #34-2010-00085705, claiming his former paramour Alyc Maselli, along with Abby Patneaud, Catherine Picton and others conspired through North American Title Company to defraud him of more than $25,000.

Now, separately, the FPPC has called for “a full investigation” into Leary’s allegedly illegal financial activities and, “if found guilty, because of his pattern and practice of unlawful behavior regarding his council seat, that he be punished to the extent of the law.”

Money, politics, girlfriends ...

The FPPC has asked the Sacramento court to force one of Leary’s business associates to cough up documents pertaining to Leary’s 2008 campaign expenditures.

The FPPC is particularly keen to see documents relating to an allegedly fraudulent payment of $10,751.95 from his campaign committee account to the Circle Seven Wine & Liquor store to pay for alcoholic beverages for a campaign event.

The store was owned by Lababedy Hakmat. Hakmat previously had been a co-owner with Leary in another liquor store, “Ernie’s,” in Carmichael.

Lababedy allegedly then used that 10 grand "to facilitate payment, on behalf of Mr. Leary, of rent on a past due lease contract belonging to Mr. Leary's ex-girlfriend," the report said.

The “ex-girlfriend” referred to was Maselli.

The first complaint in the new report noted that Leary’s campaign statements claimed he had paid more than $10,000 on a mysterious, untraceable “fundraising event.”

Investigators demanded to know, among other things:

-- When and where was this event held
-- Who attended it
-- Why were no other contributions received at the event
-- Why was so much money spent on a city council seat that paid a measly $600 a month, and
-- “If so much alcohol was purchased and then was consumed, did the attendees then drink and drive?”

The second complaint alleged the $10K was actually used to pay “back rent” for Maselli, a sum allegedly accumulated while the couple went through a temporary romantic split in their tumultuous, “on-again, off-again” relationship.

The third complaint against Leary involved a questioned expenditure of $7,000 to one Paul Galindo, who was characterized as a “campaign consultant,” but was, in fact, a mortgage broker.

“Mr. Leary has many real estate investments, investments that he transfers in and out of his name (most to family members) before and after the elections to avoid Statement of Economic Interests disclosure,” the complaint said.

The report states that, Leary, as an elected official “has long crossed the line of not only thumbing his political nose at the law but abuses the public’s trust.”

It goes on to recall that Leary had previously been cited by the Sacramento County Grand Jury for 14 alleged violations of conflict of interest laws and for other actions which the grand jury described as “reprehensible,” “vulgar” and “egregious.”

“We now allege improper or better stated, unlawful, spending of campaign contributions,” the report claimed.

It later states, “(W)e allege that Mr. Leary is not telling the truth.”
The report also objected to Leary’s financial interest in Ernie’s Liquor store, which it said violated a little known law that prohibits law enforcement officers from owning liquor stores.

The report noted that while former Sacramento Sheriff Lou Blanas knew about Leary’s ownership role in Ernie’s liquor store, he did nothing about it.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]