State controller confirms review of City of Industry finances

State controller confirms her agency is examining the finances of the City of Industry

California State Controller Betty T. Yee confirmed Tuesday that her agency has begun examining the finances of the City of Industry after news reports revealed that an audit had questioned dealings involving firms controlled by a former mayor and his relatives.

Yee said her office is reviewing financial information from the City of Industry and may announce a formal audit process in the next day or two. The controller's office can initiate an audit on its own, but Yee said it would like to be invited to do so by the city.

"We'd love to cooperate with the city," she said.

The news came the same day that Los Angeles County Supervisors voted to call for an investigation by the state controller and for the county's district attorney to convene a grand jury investigation.

Supervisors Hilda Solis and Michael D. Antonovich proposed asking Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey to not only investigate "possible fraud, corruption and illegal activity on the part of the mayor and City Council of the City of Industry" but also any dealings that occurred in surrounding cities. The supervisors also requested that the controller look into the city's financial dealings, including examining the findings of a recent audit which found that companies owned by Industry's former mayor and his family members had benefited from lucrative city contracts.

City of Industry officials said last week that district attorney investigators had already contacted the city about municipal contracts that have generated more than $326 million in payments to businesses owned by former Mayor David Perez and his family over the last 20 years.

Residents of the neighboring city of Pomona called on the supervisors to also push for an investigation into Perez's business dealings in that city, including a proposed waste transfer station. Several residents spoke of health concerns regarding the proposed facility's location near a school and residential areas.

"Low-income residents live around this area, and I believe the Perez family is trying to build this facility here because they disregard our health, especially because they might think we don't have a larger voice because we don't have more money," resident Chris Gutierrez said.

In response, Solis broadened her proposal to include calling for an investigation into the cities and unincorporated areas surrounding Industry.

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