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West Hollywood residents defend councilman’s city credit card use

Mayor John Duran

West Hollywood Councilman John Duran -- whose charges on a city-issued credit card have been the focus of a probe by Los Angeles County prosecutors -- was shown some support by the audience at a council meeting Monday evening.

During public comments at the meeting, Joseph Clapsaddle, a West Hollywood resident, defended Duran, saying the councilman is a hard worker.

"This is bullying at its very most basic," Clapsaddle said of the focus on Duran.

Clapsaddle asked the audience to stand in support of Duran. A majority of the audience stood and clapped.

Duran charged dozens of meals to his city expense account, spending more than $7,000 at local restaurants over three years. County prosecutors are trying to determine whether the meals violated state law.

David Demerjian, head of the district attorney's Public Integrity Division, said his office has never prosecuted an official for expensing meals inside the city he or she serves. State rules allow meal and related expenses only for "necessary city business," he said.

Prosecutors have collected hundreds of pages of records -- sales receipts, credit card statements and expense report forms -- from West Hollywood in recent months. Demerjian said the meal expenses of other council members "paled in comparison" to Duran's expenses.

Duran has created a legal defense fund for himself.

The city has issued two statements in the last week regarding the inquiry by the district attorney's office.

"In response to suggestions from the district attorney's office, the city is updating its expense reimbursement policy to assure that it is current," City Atty. Michael Jenkins said in a statement.

ALSO:

Corruption can leave cities with enormous legal bills

Corruption probe in Oxnard produces no criminal charges

West Hollywood councilman's meal expenses invite scrutiny

-- Hailey Branson-Potts in West Hollywood

Photo: West Hollywood Councilman John Duran, center, has been the focus of a probe by the district attorney's office for his city credit card use.  Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

 
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