BEAUMONT, Calif. (KABC) -- Four ex-Beaumont city leaders pleaded guilty to public corruption charges, for a scheme that cost taxpayers more than $40 million.
Former city manager Alan Kapanicas, former director of economic development David Dillon, former director of planning Ernest Egger, and former finance director William Aylward all pleaded guilty to various felonies Tuesday morning in downtown Riverside.
"It's an important step toward getting justice for the city of Beaumont," said Riverside County deputy district attorney Emily Hanks.
Two other conspirators have already pleaded guilty.
Many of them have been sentenced to house arrest for one year, and all of them were ordered to pay restitution to the city of Beaumont and the Western Riverside Council of Governments.
The total restitution amount so far is more than $11 million.
"Am I a little outraged?" asked Beaumont mayor pro-tem Nancy Carroll. "Sure I am."
Carroll says she can't thank investigators enough for the money they were able to get back for the citizens. But she wishes they'd been sentenced to hard prison time instead of house arrest.
"House arrest in a different house," said Carroll. "One with bars. That would have been good."
But deputy district attorney Amy Barajas said that just wasn't possible.
"Unfortunately, the state of California has changed the way people are sentenced," said Barajas. "And these defendants were considered non-violent offenders, so this is the way we could still hold them accountable."
Barajas and Hanks say it was a complicated scheme.
"That's one of the ways they were able to achieve this fraud over so many years," said Hanks. "Because it was done in such a covert manner."
Dillon and Egger were taking money designated to be used for transportation projects, according to Hanks, and funneling it through their own private consulting company, Urban Logic Consultants. That crime is conflict of interest.
"They were serving as city leaders, directors of various departments, and funneling work to their own private company," said Hanks. "That's illegal."
Kapanicas and Aylward were misappropriating public funds, according to Hanks, by giving out interest-free loans to some city employees.
"Anyone who wanted a private loan without any interest," said Hanks. "They were just handing out money."
One former city official, Joseph Aklufi, is still set for trial with a preliminary hearing in February.
Current leaders are now struggling with how to regain the public's trust, after so many leaders in city hall have been guilty of public corruption.
"The citizens get in their Toyotas and drive their kids to soccer games and have faith in their government," said Carroll. "And then they get sucker-punched."
Four former Beaumont city leaders plead guilty to public corruption charges
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