Accusing Juanita St. John of “fraud and deceit,” City Atty. James K. Hahn filed a lawsuit today to recover $388,920 in city funds paid to the African trade task force she headed.
The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court, alleges that St. John and unnamed task force members breached four contracts with the city dating back to 1985 by using city funds for improper purposes, failing to maintain accurate books and records, and failing to make any accounting to the city for its expenditures.
St. John and the others never intended to honor the terms of the contract, the suit alleges, but instead “had a secret intent to use the funds for their own purposes or in violation of the contracts.”
St. John, a friend and business associate of Mayor Tom Bradley, is the subject of a number of investigations for her handling of the city funds, which the mayor helped secure for the task force. Bradley, who helped create the task force and was a member of its advisory board, was not named in the lawsuit.
City auditors have said that the task force owes the city more than $260,000, but Hahn sued today for the full $388,920 paid to the task force since 1985, saying the group had never made a proper accounting for any of the money.
St. John has maintained that she can account for the funds.