Investor pleads guilty to withholding email during grand jury probe of Port of L.A. police chief

A Santa Monica attorney pleaded guilty Thursday to disobeying a federal grand jury subpoena during the public-corruption investigation of the Port of Los Angeles’ former police chief.

Gerard N. Casale Jr. admitted that he failed to turn over an email in response to the subpoena seeking information about his business dealings with the former port police chief, Ronald Boyd, according to court papers filed in the Central District of California.

Boyd was the target of a federal corruption investigation that was looking for financial ties between him and a software company that won a contract at the port. Casale was the chief executive of that company, Ironroad USA. 

The probe led to an indictment that accused Boyd of helping Ironroad tailor its responses to the port’s contract proposals. Boyd was also accused of defrauding the city by failing to inform port officials that his firm, BDB Digital Communications, had a revenue-sharing agreement with Casale’s company. 

Boyd pleaded guilty in 2016 to lying to federal investigators and concealing $1.1 million in income connected to his private security company. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped corruption charges alleging he defrauded the city by hiding his ties to Ironroad USA. Boyd was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

During the grand jury investigation, Casale failed to turn over an email from April 2012 in which he discussed an “issue” he resolved between Boyd and his business partners, according to court papers.

The email “was relevant to a material issue in the investigation, namely Boyd’s financial interest in BDB and [Casale’s] familiarity with that financial interest,” according to the plea agreement signed by Casale.

In his plea agreement, Casale also admitted that he was not truthful when he initially denied knowledge of Boyd’s ties to BDB Digital Communications. Two months later, he retracted that statement in an interview with FBI agents.

Casale’s defense attorney did not respond to an after-hours request for comment. 

Casale, who was most recently connected to a venture capital firm that invested in tech start-ups, is scheduled to be sentenced July 10 before U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner.

Casale formally pleaded guilty to a contempt charge. Penalties are not specified in federal sentencing guidelines, but Casale’s plea agreement calls for the judge to abide by the penalty range for an obstruction-of-justice charge, which can result in up to 10 years in federal prison.

An LAX police officer was also charged with filing a false tax return in connection with Boyd’s private security company.

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattHjourno

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