24 November 2004 – LAWFUEL – Law, legal, attorney news – Pete Fajardo, who served a four-year term as mayor of the City of Carson, was sentenced this morning to 15 months in federal prison for agreeing to accept more than $100,000 in bribes in exchange for votes while he was a member of the City Council. Fajardo, whose real name is Agapito Diaz Fajardo, pleaded guilty in January 2003 to two counts of extortion under color of official right. Fajardo was sentenced today by United States District Judge John F. Walter.
In a plea agreement, Fajardo admitted that he extorted approximately $50,000 from
the owner of an apartment complex in Carson who needed financial assistance from
the city to continue making half of the units available to low-income seniors. The
owner of the complex known as El Camino Village requested a city-sponsored,
$850,000 “buy-down” of the mortgage for the complex. On September 21, 1999, Fajardo
made a motion to the City Council, which was sitting as the Carson Redevelopment
Agency, and then voted in favor of the buy-down proposal. Over a three-month period
that culminated with the vote, Fajardo received approximately $50,000 in bribes
from the owner of the apartment complex.
The second corruption charge related to approximately $70,000 that Fajardo
attempted to extort from an engineering company that wanted a contract to construct
a bridge over a freeway in Carson. That bribe was not paid.
Fajardo, 62, was elected to the Carson City Council in 1992, and he was elected
mayor in 1997. He left the Council in 2001.
Fajardo is one of 10 people who were charged in relation to a wide-ranging
investigation into corruption in the City of Carson. In addition to Fajardo, former
Mayor Daryl Sweeney, former City Councilwoman Raunda Frank, former City Councilman
Manuel Ontal and others have pleaded guilty. Sweeney is scheduled to be sentenced
on December 20 and Ontal is scheduled to be sentenced on March 28. Frank was
sentenced earlier this year to five years of probation, to include four months of
home detention and 100 hours of community service.
The investigation into corruption in the City of Carson was conducted by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation Division.