L.A. bribery trial spotlights City Hall corruption in run-up to election
SAN FRANCISCO — Longtime city attorney Jan Goldsmith faces four corruption trials in the weeks ahead, as prosecutors and defense attorneys prepare to try the latest chapter in what has become a three-year saga to clean up corruption among city Hall employees and allies of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
The city attorney’s office, the city’s public defender, the U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI are among those involved in the lengthy legal proceedings.
Goldsmith’s office last week told The Chronicle the possibility of a possible corruption trial is “contingent on whether or not the [federal] grand jury decides to issue an indictment” against her.
Last month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff told The Chronicle that Goldsmith would “continue to conduct herself in a manner consistent with her public reputation.”
Goldsmith has faced criticism for her handling of cases involving former city administrator Ramon Cortines, whose wife, Janice Cortines, was arrested earlier this year on federal corruption charges. She denied, however, that she had tried to set up an appearance by Ramon Cortines at the U.S. Capitol during a recent public hearing.
Goldsmith’s office prosecuted that case but reached a deal with prosecutors this month to drop the charges. Goldsmith had defended Ramon Cortines, who had been convicted of corruption and sentenced to 25 years in prison on an unrelated state fraud conviction.
The grand jury probe on the corruption case recently reached the third of its four phases.
U.S. U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag wrote in a statement last week that prosecutors are “working with the Los Angeles district attorney’s office to ascertain the grand jury’s investigation,” but “further proceedings cannot be disclosed.”
Goldsmith had been on temporary leave from the office after Cortines’ trial, which concluded last month after Goldsmith said the charges against him were “without merit.”
The grand jury’s investigation is examining corruption among high-ranking officials of the Los Angeles Public Works department, the agency responsible for infrastructure and water projects.
Villaraigosa, who has pledged to clean up city government, has said