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Irwindale official sentenced for taking 'lavish trips' on city's dime

April 7, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Irwindale's former finance director pleaded no contest Monday to conflict of interest for his role in spending money on lavish trips to New York City, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced.

The judge ordered 69-year-old Abe De Dios to pay about $5,300 in restitution to the city, plus more than $4,000 in fines. He was also sentenced to 100 hours of community service with Habitat for Humanity, which he has already performed.

A one-year jail sentence was suspended if he stays out of trouble while serving three years probation. Under his plea deal, De Dios was also banned from ever running for elected office.

De Dios had been charged with 15 felony counts -- five counts each of misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement by a public or private officer and conflict of interest -- but pleaded to the single misdemeanor conflict-of- interest charge. All of the other counts were dropped.

Arraignment is pending for three co-defendents: Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda, City Councilman Manuel Garcia and former City Councilwoman Rosemary Ramirez.

Deputy District Attorney Kennes Ma said De Dios traveled with the three other Irwindale officials to New York between 2001 and 2005, ostensibly to get a better bond rating for the city. Although De Dios never received reimbursement for the trips, he was charged with conflict of interest because he admitted that he was afraid of losing his job if he didn't reimburse the council members.

Prosecutors allege the officials attended Broadway shows -- including "Aida," "The Producers," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Mamma Mia" -- and Yankees and Mets baseball games, outings that had nothing to do with city business.

City News Service contributed to this report.