|For Immediate Release
January 10th, 2002
|Contact:||DDA Michael Lubinski
HUNTINGTON BEACH COUNCILMAN DAVID GAROFALO TO PLEAD GUILTY TO 16 CRIMINAL VIOLATIONS
SANTA ANA — Conflict of interest criminal charges were filed today against Huntington Beach councilman and former mayor David Garofalo. The defendant is also the publisher of the Huntington Beach Visitors Guide, the Chamber of Commerce Business Directory and two local newspapers.
Garofalo (DOB 7-15-45), of Huntington Beach, is expected to enter a guilty plea today and be sentenced on all counts at 1:30 p.m. in Dept. C-5 of the Central Justice Center.
The complaint charges Garofalo with a felony violation of Government Code Section 1090. The felony count alleges that he voted in favor of a funding contract between the Huntington Beach Visitors Bureau and the City of Huntington Beach in September 1999. This was at the same time that Garofalo had a business relationship with the Visitors Bureau.
Additionally, he has been charged with 15 misdemeanor violations of Government Code Section 87100, alleging conflicts for voting on governmental decisions regarding businesses that advertised in his publications. It was illegal for Garofalo to vote on matters pertaining to his advertisers because he had a personal financial interest with each of the advertisers.
Garofalo is also expected to enter into a stipulation and order with the Fair Political Practices Commission in which he will not contest allegations that he failed to accurately report sources of income on his annual Statement of Economic Interest form. Additionally, Garofalo will admit that he failed to report the receipt of gifts as it relates to placement on a special list allowing him to buy a house in Huntington Beach that was later sold to a friend.
Garofalo was elected to the City Council in 1994 and re-elected in 1998. In 2000, he served a one-year term as mayor.
In August 2000, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) started an investigation into allegations that Garofalo was voting on matters in which he had a conflict. The criminal investigation initially focused on businesses advertising in his publications. It was found that Garofalo had cast numerous votes involving advertisers on issues such as zoning changes, improvement projects, leases, and building projects.
The criminal investigation was expanded as different types of voting conflicts were discovered. DA investigators also questioned the sale of Garofalo’s publishing interests that allegedly took place in January 1998. In April 2001, DA investigators searched Garofalo’s home, cars, business offices and numerous bank accounts. Approximately 70 people were interviewed and thousands of documents have been obtained. The criminal charges are as follows:
FUNDING THE VISITORS BUREAU
This investigation uncovered additional voting conflicts that included Garofalo voting in favor of entering into a contract with the Huntington Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau for public relations services on Sept. 20, 1999. The contract called for the city to “fund” the Visitors Bureau in the amounts of $200,000 for 1999/2000 and $270,000 for 2000/2001. During the same period, Garofalo’s publishing business held an exclusive contract with the Visitors Bureau to supply the “official” visitors guide. In return for supplying the guide, Garofalo’s publishing interests were entitled to all the revenue generated from selling advertising space in the guide.
In January 1998, Garofalo purportedly sold his publishing interests to Coatings Resources, a paint manufacturing business located in Huntington Beach and owned by a friend. Based upon the documents obtained and interviews of the witnesses, the sale appeared to be on paper only. When Garofalo voted to fund the Visitors Bureau, he was earning a majority of his income from the sale of advertising space in the Visitors Guide. Even after the alleged sale, Garofalo continued to control all aspects of the publishing business. He had exclusive control over all banking accounts until June 2000. After that, the bank accounts were transferred and Garofalo still controlled the receipt of revenue and payments to himself and others. Garofalo took steps to conceal his management of the publishing businesses.
COUNTS 2 – 16
VOTES RELATED TO ADVERTISERS
The 15 misdemeanor violations occurred between January 1988 and August 2000. Each of the businesses listed in the complaint advertised in Garofalo publications at a cost of $500 to $13,000 annually.
Government Code Section 87100 forbids Garofalo from voting on matters related to his advertisers if the advertiser paid him at least $250 within a year prior to the vote. Each vote resulted in a separate misdemeanor charge.
FAIR POLITICAL PRACTICES COMMISSION
As part of the DA investigation, with the cooperation and assistance of the FPPC, it was discovered that Garofalo failed to accurately report sources of income and gifts. It is required that public officials must disclose their financial interests on an annual basis by filing a Statement of Economic Interest (SEI).
Garofalo is expected to enter into a stipulation accepting responsibility for the failure to properly report his income. It is anticipated that the stipulation will become an order signed by the FPPC, which will include a $47,000 fine requested by the District Attorney.
Garofalo’s SEI statements from 1997 to 2000 were reviewed. He failed to report income from Coatings Resource and Air Quality Consultants, the listed owners of the publications in which he purported to work as a hired consultant. Additionally, Garofalo received unreported benefits from being placed in the number one position on a waiting list for the purchase of a house in a development known as St. Augustine.
Also unreported was a discounted stay at a Huntington Beach Holiday Inn between December 1997 and May 1998. Garofalo enjoyed the use of a three-room suite at the rate of $50 per night. This amount was far below the normal hotel rate.
Additional reporting violations involved the use of trade credit extended to various businesses for advertisements in the publications. Instead of collecting the money, the debt was paid by giving Garofalo services and products.