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EXCLUSIVE: DARK MONEY DONATIONS INFLUENCING LA MIRADA CITY COUNCIL RACE

By Brian Hews

Campaign documents obtained by Hews Media Group-La Mirada Lamplighter from the La Mirada City Clerk’s office show that a large sum of obscure campaign monies have been given to a questionable committee to influence the normally tranquil La Mirada City Council race.

In addition, District 1 candidate Diane Gramajo took large donations from two well-known local elected officials in the amount of $3,000.

The questionable committee, calling itself Residents for a Better La Mirada (RBLM), received only one donation from a La Habra based construction company.

The committee used the money to slam District 1 candidate John Lewis and District 2 candidate and incumbent Pauline Deal using direct mailed “hit pieces.”

RBLM lists its address on the 12800 block of Oakwood Lane in La Mirada, and its treasurer as Ionel Imbre. A search of public records show that Imbre owns the house.

 

Residents for a Better La Mirada campaign information.

 

Mr. Imbre’s phone number is the contact number for RBLM listed on the Secretary of State’s website.

Click here to see listing.

It is unknown why Mr. Imbre is heavily involved with RBLM, and phone calls were met with, “I have no comment.”

 

One-time $6,500 donation, Who is Stelian Onufrei?

The construction company that donated money to RBLM, Diamond Construction and Design, lists its company address as 921 N Harbor Blvd. #622 in La Habra.

HMG-LML went out to the La Habra address and found it to be a PO Box in a UPS Store located in a strip mall.

 

The UPS store in La Habra which Diamond Construction and Design lists as its primary address.

 

Diamond donated a staggering $6,500 to RBLM, which was the only donation listed in the documents.

The campaign documents showed that RBLM was responsible for the three political, direct-mail advertisement hit pieces against Lewis and Deal.

RBLM spent over $2,000 on those hit pieces; logic dictates other pieces are coming.

All three pieces listed RBLM as the responsible party, and, as first reported by HMG-LML on Thursday, the hit pieces were mailed from Fort Worth, Texas, a move used by other shady campaign committees to hide proponents of the committee.

Investigating further, HMG-LML was able to locate the “mailing address” as opposed to the UPS address for Diamond.

An examination using a title search company showed that the address is a 2,089 square foot single-family dwelling located in Buena Park and owned by Stelian Onufrei.

Onufrei is also listed as the registered owner of Diamond in the County of Orange’s business name listing. No other information could be found about Onufrie.

 

Orange County business listing showing Onufrei as owner/filer for Diamond. Click  on image to see larger document.

 

 

HMG-LML was also able to obtain the phone number to Diamond; a call to the number was met by a voice mail that said, “you have reached Diamond Construction and Design.”

Looking on the state of California contractor’s license website reveals Diamond’s contractors license (521295) violated the California building permit law in 2013, but since then the license is in good standing.

Click here to see violation.

A message was left, but as of publication time, the call had not been returned.

In other documents, District 1 candidate Diane Gramajo generated over $2,100 in monetary contributions for the period from various sources.

$500 was from State Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) and his Committee to Elect State Senator Tony Mendoza for 2018.

Senator Mendoza, along with State Senator Ian Calderon (D-Whittier), also gave “in-kind” donations to Gramajo in the amount of $3,000 sending out two direct mail pieces for Gamajo.

 

Gramajo’s campaign documents showing the State Senator Mendoza and Calderon donations totaling $3,500. Click on image to see larger document.

 

Gramajo, HMG-LML readers will remember, was involved in the La Mirada Football Booster scandal that embroiled La Mirada High, then football coach Mike Moschetti, and Gramajo.

Gramajo and Moschetti ran the entire booster club operation, which took in over $1 million dollars in 8 years.

The 2014 HMG-LML investigation revealed that the booster club had violated several California tax laws with no oversight on where and how hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent every year.

Even more alarming, the booster club indicated on all donation documents that it was a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, going so far as using an inactive and non-existent identification number.

This deliberate move placed anyone who donated money to the booster club into a compromising tax position.

The investigation also revealed that the organization did not have a California Franchise Tax Board number and did not remit taxable sales or report the amount of sales from the lucrative “50/50” cash fundraisers the booster club held.

Finally, no year-end or internal financial statements were ever filed since 2006, and sources told HMG-LML that there were no bank statements available from the organization.

Gramajo never commented to HMG-LML before or after the story ran, but sources say the booster club remains in disarray.

 

Click here to read booster story.

 

District 1 candidate John Lewis’ documents showed two small donations and a loan from Lewis to the committee for $7,500.

District 1 candidate Tony Aiello’s documents showed a $2,500 donation from ATV in La Mirada and $1,000 from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

District 2 incumbent Pauline Deal and District 1 candidate Jim Emmerling filed “short form” documents showing little or no donations and expenses..

The other incumbent in District 2, Andrew Serega, showed a $50 contribution for the filing period, but it also showed donations totaling $5,000 during prior filing periods.

HMG-LML has sent emails to Serega asking for comment about the mailer “hit piece” sent out against his only competitor, with no response.

 

 

 

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One Response to EXCLUSIVE: DARK MONEY DONATIONS INFLUENCING LA MIRADA CITY COUNCIL RACE

  1. Bogus Freeway Advertising Reply

    February 27, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    In the past elections, candidates running in the city of Cerritos ( Council and ABCUSD) have used a lot of dark ghost like private contributors to their campaigns also. The campaign accounting will say $2K in it, but there will be over $25K: flyers –mailer’s- yard signs posted everywhere. Private external donors, are creating ghost accounts, and spending a lot of money for advertising for the candidates, therefore the candidate does not have to do the accounting of where the money is coming from.

    Many unions have used these ghost accounts, in order to remain anonymous. Easy to spot, use no mailing return address and have advertisement printed outside the areas.

    Seasoned Candidates charge advertising inorder to skirt around the laws, election is closed, file BK on the advertising, never reporting accountability.

    Many oversize advertising signs on Blvd- Easements-Walls – Freeways are all paid for by dark ghost accounts.

    USPO is guilty of fraud, many mailers are held in ghost warehouses, till after the election is completed, then the advertisements are mailed. Candidates vying are relying less of USPS, because of this sort of detentions.

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