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State accuses small city Cudahy of large spending irregularities

Former Cudahy City Councilman Osvaldo Conde surrenders to the FBI in 2012. Cudahy has been buffeted by corruption investigations and political upheaval in recent years.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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City leaders in one of Los Angeles County’s poorest cities used city-issued credit cards for excessive travel, meals and entertainment, mismanaged state funds and had virtually no internal controls to prevent the misuse of taxpayer dollars, the state controller concluded in a scathing audit released Tuesday.

The audit, which examined fiscal management practices in Cudahy over a two-year period ending in 2012, also ordered the city to return $22.7 million in redevelopment funds.

DOCUMENT: Read the audit

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“The few rules that did exist were not followed, and questionable spending was rampant,” said state Controlller John Chiang.

Like neighboring Bell, Cudahy has been buffeted by corruption investigations and political upheaval in recent years, though state officials praised the city’s current leadership for their effort to reform.

Three former city leaders were sentenced last year for shaking down the owner of a marijuana dispensary.

Court documents in the criminal cases revealed Cudahy as a place where bribes -- sometimes passed along in shoe boxes -- were routine, city elections were rigged and city workers served as armed bodyguards for council members.

Jeff.gottlieb@latimes.com

Steve.marble@latimes.com

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