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One year ago: Jerry Decter


In the late 1970s, Los Angeles City Councilman Louis R. Nowell tearfully resigned his post after being accused of conspiracy and bribery. It was all due to L.A. community activist Jerry Decter and his wife, whose research uncovered unsavory activity by the councilman. Decter died of a heart attack one year ago today.

The couple spent thousands of dollars of their own money to uncover what they called "indiscretions" that ended Nowell's 14-year career. Their revelations included the councilman's failure to properly report $19,700 collected at a testimonial dinner and a trip to Mexico funded by billboard companies.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky was a city councilman in 1977 when he said Nowell had driven "himself out of office."

"Not a week went by that he didn't refer to the Decters," Yaroslavsky told The Times in 1977. "He had no one to blame but himself. They weren't making those things up."

Decter, who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, remained an involved community activist until two years before his death, often fighting development near the home he had lived in since 1961.

For more, read Jerry Decter's obituary from The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Jerry Decter and his wife, Betty, at their home in a canyon near Beverly Hills. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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