Ex-DWP worker pleads not guilty

Los Angeles Times - - LOS ANGELES - By Sarah Parvini sarah.parvini@latimes.com Twit­ter: @sarah­parvini

A for­mer Los An­ge­les Depart­ment of Wa­ter and Power au­dio-vis­ual tech­ni­cian pleaded not guilty Mon­day to charges of mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing more than $4 mil­lion in public funds.

Pros­e­cu­tors al­lege That­cus “T.C.” Richard helped steer nu­mer­ous small con­tracts for au­dio-vis­ual work to com­pa­nies owned by friends and that in re­turn, those com­pa­nies sub­con­tracted with a firm Richard owned, pay­ing him more than $1 mil­lion.

His at­tor­ney, Richard Coberly, said af­ter Mon­day’s court hear­ing that his client main­tains he has been falsely ac­cused.

“From what he has told our of­fice, he was a dili­gent em­ployee and he’s very up­set that at this point there’s al­le­ga­tions against him that he doesn’t be­lieve are true,” Coberly said out­side the court­house.

Coberly asked for his client to be re­leased on his own re­cog­ni­zance, but L.A. County Su­pe­rior Court Judge Upin­der S. Kalra set Richard’s bail at $775,000.

A bail re­view is sched­uled for June 25, Coberly said.

Coberly said Richard, who ap­peared in court in a wheel­chair, has stage-four can­cer in his back and hip. "He's a very sick­man" he said.

“We’re try­ing to make sure that he’s in a pri­vate med­i­cal fa­cil­ity where he’s get­ting the best care he can get.”

Richard, 64, is charged with 27 felony counts, in­clud­ing mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of public funds, em­bez­zle­ment and con­tract fraud. If con­victed on all counts, he faces up to 20 years in state prison, ac­cord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors. Richard, who earned about $100,000 a year from the DWP, re­tired in June 2014 DWP spokesman Joseph Ra­mallo last week said the agency was in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether Richard will be able to keep his pen­sion. The al­leged fraud be­gan as early as 1993, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the DWP. It said Richard, who acted as a con­tract ad­min­is­tra­tor for the util­ity, helped steer about 140 city con­tracts to his friends’ com­pa­nies.

Most of those con­tracts were less than $50,000, and “sub­ject to lower-level su­per­vi­sory ap­proval,” the DWP state­ment said.

The con­tracts were com­pet­i­tively bid, but Richard tai­lored the spec­i­fi­ca­tions to fit his friends’ busi­nesses and at­tract lit­tle in­ter­est from com­peti­tors, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.

Mark Boster Los An­ge­les Times

THAT­CUS RICHARD is ac­cused of mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing more than $4 mil­lion through his job as an au­dio-vis­ual tech­ni­cian for the L.A. Depart­ment of Wa­ter and Power. He has pleaded not guilty. If con­victed on all counts, he faces up to 20 years in state prison.

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