The glamor of Hollywood Hills, the allure of Venice beach, the grand Pantages Theatre, the liberal Leimert Park, the majestic Griffith Observatory, and the beautiful neighborhood of Echo Park overshadow the filth, corruption, and public sleaze of Los Angeles.

Released by Warner Bros, LA Confidential is one of the many movies that unearths corruption in the police department and across Los Angeles.

California doesn’t quite have the reputation of Illinois or New York when it comes to public corruption. Identical with the city of Los Angeles and its counterpart in Chicago. However, the City of Angels has a long history of public corruption itself. Many public officials stole from the people’s troughs for their enrichment. Here we look at some more prominent examples and their broader ripple effects on the city’s history. Let’s explore the history of public corruption in LA and the recent scandals with Ehline Law and our personal injury attorneys.

LA Corruption Is Not Just A Recent Phenomenon

The history of corruption in Southern California is well documented. The Cal Watchdog has a list of some of the more infamous cases. One of the more recent examples is the 2016 resignation of South El Monte Luis Aguinaga after taking bribes for seven years. Another LA Times expose found that in 2010 City Manager Robert Rizzo ran the city of Bell through some corrupt actions. A jury found Rizzo guilty of 69 corruption charges, including additional city council members.

In the city of Carson, Mayor Al Robles faced an investigation over serving both as Mayor and a board member of the Water Replenishment District and campaign finance questions for each. In Lynwood, two former City Council members, Louis Byrd and Fernando Pedroza received convictions for raising their pay by almost a combined half-million dollars.

Stipends Taken

They took stipends for working on city commissions without any responsibilities. Reportedly, city officials also used city credit cards to pay for a night out to a Mexican strip club — including sexual favors. Mayor Paul Richards II was slapped with a 16-year sentence for embezzlement in 2007.

Of course, there is the public corruption in the 1990s Rampart Scandal, which saw over 70 police officers implicated in crime over the city’s Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums program. The police chief Bernard Parks was not hired back in 2001.

City Council Members Consolidating Power Arrested as LA Staggers under a Cascade of Scandals

The head of the LA Dept of Water and Power pleaded guilty to corruption and back-room bribery. At the same time, Mayor Eric Garcetti continues to make a last attempt push to confirm his appointment as ambassador of India after the US Senate put his nomination on hold after mishandling sexual harassment allegations.

Leaked Recording Exposes Corrupt City Officials

Recently, a leaked recording of corrupt politicians demonstrated the racist nature of political figures in the top hierarchy of the LA government, forcing President Joe Biden to take action.

The audio recording of the city officials, City Council President Nury Martinez, Kevin de Léon, Gil Cedillo, and Ron Herrera, revealed how the officials mocked a black child and discussed using the redistricting process to consolidate power and punish their rivals.

Since the recording, angry protestors have taken to the street against the corruption, forcing Herrera to step down and Martinez to take a leave of absence.

Mitch Englander and José Huizar Indicted for Corruption

In 2021, former Council Member, Mitch Englander, faced incarceration after obstructing a corruption probe, and another former Council Member, José Huizar, got indicted on multiple charges, including favoring developers and taking bribes.

Mark Ridley-Thomas Provides Contracts to USC for Favors

Former Council Member Mark Ridley-Thomas also faced allegations of corruption when reports surfaced that he was providing public contracts to the University of Southern California in return for favors. Although Thomas did not plead guilty, he stepped down from his position.

Running Candidates Ask Council Members to Resign

United States Representative Karen Bass and Rick Caruso, an American businessman, asked for LA council members to resign before the mayoral elections.

More Public Sleaze

Los Angeles has severe problems like any other city, involving big city crime and City Hall corruption.  Publicly pointing out corruption in the 1930s had severe consequences as gambling rigs and prostitution establishments operated with impunity, and many police officials would offer these places protection in exchange for bribes.

The corruption didn’t stay at the lower levels but trickled down from top to bottom, with the police chief, district attorney, and mayors involved.

Clifford Clinton Puts His Foot down on Corruption

A California restauranteur, Clifford Clinton, was bent on exposing the corruption and pushed the Grand Jury to investigate. However, he faced resistance from the grand jury members who had connections with the mayor, organized crime, and the underworld.

Minority Grand Jury Report Reveals Shocking Practices

Clinton created the Citizen Independent Vice Investigating Committee that investigated the vices in Los Angeles and found thousands of gambling rigs, prostitution houses, and bookie’s joints.

When he asked to publish the report, the Grand Jury refused to accept it, forcing Clinton to publish his own Minority Grand Jury Report, which exposed the entire LA operations, with the offices of police and district attorneys involved.

Clinton Faces Retaliation from the Corrupt Officials

Following his report, he faced increased taxes, got denied a permit for a new cafeteria, and had many lawsuits come his way.

Mysterious people tried to scare Clinton by bombing the basement of his Los Feliz home and threatening him. Soon, officials pursued violence against people who raised their voices or carried out investigations.

Clinton and others’ efforts led to the sacking of the mayor, and the new mayor, Fetcher Bowron, forced the entire police commission to resign, dealing a significant blow to corruption.

How L.A. City Hall Became So Corrupt: Scandals of Power and Money

Although the recent leak exposed the top leaders and rocked the city of Angels, corruption is deep-rooted in LA and has gone on for decades. Downtown Los Angeles is not the only place where corruption allegations arose, with many other cities in LA County coming onto the maps for their officials misappropriating public funds, taking bribes, and additional corruption charges.

In 2010, an investigative article suggested possible corruption, including officials receiving record-breaking salaries, voter fraud, high property tax rates, and other irregularities leading to the Bell scandal. The jury found the Ex-city manager, Robert Rizzo, guilty of misappropriating public funds and over 65 corruption charges.

Al Robles, former Mayor of Carson, faced several controversies, including holding the position of mayor and serving on the Water Replenishment Board at the same time, campaign finance violations, state ethics inquiry, and even a sexual harassment lawsuit.

In 2010, the FBI arrested Commerce Councilman Robert Fierro for allegedly hiding illegal campaign contributions. The same year Councilman Hugo Argumedo pleaded guilty to obstructing justice and fabricating evidence to sue the city for allegedly unpaid attorney fees.

In 2012, the FBI arrested Mayor David Silva and other Cudahy city officials for taking bribes from a marijuana dispensary. By 2014, an investigative report revealed that the city officials were using the city credit card to enjoy a lavish lifestyle, taking higher salaries without justification, and enjoying paid leaves when they were not entitled to them.

With so much power, many corrupt politicians may feel like they’re Tom Cruise taking out their target from the rear window or Kevin Spacey in the House of Cards. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that all this is affecting Los Angeles residents, leading to lower voter turnout at elections.

Did we miss any high-profile cases? Let us know through email!

Driving Directions to Ehline Law Firm from LAPD’s Rampart Division.

Drive is 6 min (1.3 miles) via W 6th St in usual traffic from Los Angeles Police Department – Rampart Station
1401 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90017.

  • Drive along W 6th St 4 min (0.9 mi)
  • Take S Hope St to S Grand Ave 1 min (0.2 mi)
  • Continue on S Grand Ave.
  • Drive to W 5th St 51 s (0.1 mi)
  • Arrive at Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC 633 W 5th St #2890, Los Angeles, CA 90071 (213) 596-9642. I am driving Directions to Ehline Law Firm from Lynwood City Council.
    Drive 35 min (15.1 miles) via I-710 N and I-5 N from Lynwood City Hall, 11330 Bullis Rd, Lynwood, CA 90262.
  • Get on I-710 N in South Gate from E Imperial Hwy 6 min (1.8 mi)
  • Follow I-710 N and I-5 N to East Cesar E Chavez Avenue in Los Angeles.
  • Take exit 135B from I-5 N/Golden State Fwy 12 min (10.3 mi)
  • Continue on East Cesar E Chavez Avenue. Take N Grand Ave to W 5th St 13 min (2.9 mi)

Driving Directions to Ehline Law Firm from South El Monte City Council.
The average commute is 34 min (15.5 miles) via CA-60 W and San Bernardino Fwy to the City of South El Monte City Hall at 1819 Central Ave, South El Monte, CA 91733.

  • Get on CA-60 W 3 min (1.0 mi)
  • Continue on CA-60 W.
  • Take San Bernardino Fwy to N Grand Ave in Los Angeles.
  • Take exit three from US-101 N 18 min (13.7 mi)
  • Follow N Grand Ave to W 5th St 4 min (0.9 mi)

Driving Directions to Ehline Law Firm from the City of Bell City Council.
Drive 27 min (9.3 miles) via I-5 N City of Bell 4401 E Gage Ave, Bell, CA 90201.

  • Get on I-710 N/Long Beach Fwy in Vernon 9 min (2.1 mi)
  • Take I-5 N/Santa Ana Fwy and US-101 N to E 4th St in Los Angeles.
  • Take exit 1A from US-101 N 6 min (4.8 mi)
  • Continue on E 4th St.
  • Take E 3rd St to W 5th St 10 min (2.3 mi)


Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of the largest motorcycle accident settlements in U.S. History. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves in being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride, and a a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.

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