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By Brian Hews
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey cited “potential impropriety” and as a result will not be formally prosecuting Cerritos Mayor Pro-Tem Carol Chen after Hews Media Group-Community Newspapers reported that the controversial local council member held a private meeting with other area elected officials to plot a secret strategy to defeat an upcoming $195 million general improvement bond by the ABC Unified School District.
HMG-CN confronted Chen and Cerritos City Councilman Bruce Barrows, as well as ABC School Board Members Lynda Johnson, and past city council member Grace Hu, past ABC School Board Members Cecy Groom and Dixie Primosch and at least two dozen others who attended the closed-door meeting before the July 4 holiday.
The meeting was held at Chen’s private real estate office located in Cerritos.
Long time Cerritos resident Jim McMahon filed the formal complaint against Chen with Lacey and the Public Integrity Unit on July 6. The complaint was sent to the District Attorney’s Bureau of Fraud and Corruption Prosecutions Public Integrity Division.
Lacey and her office reviewed the circumstances of Chen’s meeting, and in her response to McMahon said “although the circumstances give the appearance of potential impropriety, we do not find that the meeting held by the Cerritos Mayor Pro-Tem (Carol Chen) and selected members of the ABCUSD (Yoo and Johnson) violated the Brown Act.
“While members of both the city council and the ABCUSD board attended the meeting, as far as can be determined, there was not a majority of either body present. Therefore, the meeting was not held in violation of the Brown Act,” Lacey stated in her response to McMahon.
The Ralph M. Brown Act is also known as the California Open Meeting Law. Violating the Brown Act has resulted in countless indictments and infractions given against elected officials during the past several decades.
Lacey said in her response that there was “no evidence that any serial communications actually occurred.” Bjorn Dodd, who is a Deputy District Attorney in the Public Integrity Division, also signed the response.
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