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L.A. condo investor fined for improper campaign donations

Councilman Jack Weiss A Boston-based private equity firm was fined $67,000 by L.A.'s city Ethics Commission on Tuesday for laundering campaign contributions during the 2009 election.

Investigators found that between June 2008 and September 2009, Alcion Ventures reimbursed employees thousands of dollars after they wrote checks to four politicians: Councilman Jack Weiss, who was running for city attorney; Ron Galperin and Chris Essel, who both waged unsuccessful campaigns for City Council; and the office-holder account of Councilman Richard Alarcon.

The reimbursements violated city law, which limits donors to $500 per candidate in council campaigns and $1,000 in citywide races.

Had the commission imposed the maximum penalty, Alcion would have been fined $125,000. That amount was reduced because the company came forward to admit wrongdoing, cooperated with investigators and had its employees give back the money, according to the commission’s report.

Alcion invested in a 12-story condominium project planned for Wetherly Drive and 3rd Street, according to the Ethics Commission report. That project, which has not yet been built, was a controversial issue in the 2009 race to replace Weiss.

The commission handed Alcion the penalty on the same day that it issued a fine of nearly $184,000 – the maximum available – to a donor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. That donor, Koreatown developer Alexander Hugh, has been charged with conspiring to commit campaign money laundering, forgery and procuring false documents.

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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall


Photo: Investigators found that between June 2008 and September 2009, Alcion Ventures reimbursed employees thousands of dollars after they wrote checks to Councilman Jack Weiss (pictured) and others. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

 
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