Ex-county planner sentenced to 4 years in prison
A 68-year-old former Los Angeles County Planning Department employee convicted in connection with collecting $500,000 to issue illegal certificates to landowners was sentenced Tuesday to four years in prison. Emmett Taylor also was ordered to pay $1.53 million in restitution to the county for the cost of investigating and correcting what he had done. “We calculated there were 347 illegal parcels. The moment the county discovered it, they had to go back and clean, repair and correct all the problems,” Deputy District Attorney Leonard Torrealba said. If Taylor pays $250,000 within four months, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Pounders said he would consider reducing the sentence to three years in a prison restitution center, where Taylor would be allowed to work at an outside job. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals State law allows a judge to resentence a person within 120 days from the date of the original sentencing, said Robert Schwartz, Taylor’s attorney. “The center is run by the Department of Corrections for people who have been convicted of fraud or theft-type offenses and there’s loss as a result of the fraud and theft,” Schwartz said. “The rationale behind it is that the victims can receive reimbursement while the person is in prison and earning money.” Torrealba said Taylor is able to pay restitution, owning a house in Fullerton and property in Big Bear. But Schwartz noted that Taylor’s wife has community interest in those properties. “It throws a legal curve at any attempt to satisfy restitution,” Schwartz said. Taylor was accused of collecting $500,000 to issue illegal certificates to landowners for hundreds of acres in unincorporated areas including Agua Dulce and Malibu. Taylor pleaded no contest in May to three counts of falsification of public records after prosecutors agreed to dismiss 94 other counts. Taylor had worked in the county Planning Department for 20 years before he came under suspicion in August 2000. Prosecutors said Taylor ran a private company out of his home, forged grant deeds and issued fraudulent land-division certificates that bypassed the normal public review process. The certificates were issued over a five-year period to landowners who avoided public hearings, thousands of dollars worth of fees and other requirements to subdivide property, according to prosecutors. Officials said Taylor’s activities came under suspicion when one of his clients sent him payments – so-called “consulting fees” – to a county government address rather than to his home. Taylor was fired in November 2000 and arrested two years later after an investigation by county officials, who reviewed more than 1,000 certificates of compliance dating back to the early 1990s. The investigation led county officials to question all certificates of compliance, causing delays for property owners who sought permits to build on their land. In many cases, officials said, property owners seemed to be trying to avoid setting aside part of their land for road easements. In some cases, property owners went through the usual public hearing procedure and got permission to cut their land into smaller parcels, but applied for a certificate saying the land had been subdivided years earlier. That meant they didn’t have to give up land for roads, investigators said. Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!