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Cerritos Resident Will Stand Trial in Embezzlement Case

Paul Phillips

By Brian Hews

October 5, 2022~Cerritos resident and former Industry City Manager Paul Philips will stand trial for allegedly assisting in a developer’s scheme to steal up to $20 million in public funds from a proposed solar farm, a judge ruled Tuesday, Oct. 4.

The charges involve $20 million that the City of Industry paid to San Gabriel Valley Water and Power LLC for land leasing and the possible construction of a 450-megawatt solar project that never broke ground and eventually was canceled.

Prosecutors charged company owner William Barkett of La Jolla; Philips, who was city manager in the city of Bell; attorney Anthony Bouza and Frank Hill

Philips’ Cerritos house was raided in 2020 by the D.A as first reported by HMG-CN.

 Philips and Bouza allegedly helped draft the agreement and handled the funds, which between 2016 and 2018 were routed to an account controlled by Barkett, according to the district attorney’s office.

“While some of the money was paid to other vendors, Barkett is accused of spending about $8.3 million on personal items. He also allegedly falsified or altered invoices to inflate the amount,” the DA’s office said in a statement.

Hill was a private contractor retained by the city. He and Bouza “are accused of having a financial conflict of interest when they allegedly drafted or influenced contracts with the city,” the statement said.

Philips’ attorney, former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, told the Pasadena Star-News that his client is innocent and “we will prove it.”

Philips is scheduled to appear for arraignment Oct. 18. The other defendants, whose preliminary hearings haven’t been scheduled yet, will next appear Nov. 9.