Indictment accuses Hawthorne mayor of perjury, taking cash payment
Hawthorne Mayor Daniel Juarez was indicted Thursday on two felony counts of perjury for allegedly failing to report a $2,000 cash payment from a now-defunct local business.
Juarez is the second mayor of the South Bay city to be charged by the L.A. County district attorney's public corruption unit and the third member of the councll in recent years.
"The perjury charge upon conviction would mean he would be immediately removed from office," said David Demerjian, head deputy district attorney for the D.A.'s Public integrity Division.
"He basically accepted a cash contribution and never reported it," the prosecutor said.
The money was used to retire a campaign debt, prosecutors said.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Max Huntsman said Juarez asked the owner of a Gold's Gym in Hawthorne for $2,000 and put it in his personal bank account in 2010. The gym closed in 2012 after filing for bankruptcy protection and defaulting on a $2.5-million loan from the city.
Appearing before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli, Juarez was ordered to return to court Dec. 10 for a pretrial hearing.
The indictment handed up Wednesday alleges that Juarez failed to report money he received to pay back his campaign's debt to himself in his January 2010 and March 2011 campaign statements.
Demerjian said any elected official receiving money must report it and Juarez failed to follow the law. Juarez could face five years in prison if convicted on all charges.
Juarez was elected to the Hawthorne City Council in 2007 and was part of a reformer group that took control of the council after former Mayor Larry Guidi was arrested.
Guidi pleaded guilty Feb. 8 to a felony grand theft charge and was sentenced to one year on probation and 100 hours of community service.
Prosecutors said Guidi was caught after a security camera captured him taking the bulky item along with its stand. According to prosecutors, Guidi used it for a backyard pizza oven set-up that he was so proud of that he posted images of it on Facebook.
-- Richard Winton