In a press released issued by the Dist. Atty.’s office today, West Basin water board member Ron Smith has pleaded guilty to conflict of interest. Arraignment for Smith’s two co-defendants, Robert Earl Katherman Jr. and his wife, Marilyn Katherman was postponed to Oct. 1.
The treasurer of the West Basin Municipal Water District pleaded guilty today to charges that he embezzled nearly $20,000 from the agency to pay for tennis and dance lessons for his children and repairs on his boat, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Ronald Craig Smith, 55, pleaded guilty to one count of conflict of interest before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Thomas Sokolov. He was immediately sentenced to 180 days in county jail and placed on probation for five years.
As part of a negotiated plea, Smith submitted his resignation today to the West Basin Municipal Water District, and he turned over a $10,000 check to the district as a partial repayment of the stolen funds. He was ordered to pay $7,765 in remaining restitution to the water district.
Smith admitted orchestrating a scheme to funnel money from the West Basin board to a nonprofit agency run by the Kathermans. Shortly after receiving the water basin’s donations, the agency began writing checks on behalf of Smith and his family that covered school tuition for his son and two daughters along with a $3,500 check that went to repair Smith’s boat.
City of Inglewood Public Works Director Louis Atwell ran against Smith in the last Water Board election. Will he run again?