Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Key Betsy Butler Endorser, WeHo Councilman John Duran, Facing Possible Charges in DA Credit Card Probe

WeHo Councilman John Duran draped across AD50 candidate Betsy Butler's 
lap at an April 29th fundraising event hosted by Jeanne Dobrin and John Duran

West Hollywood Patch is reporting today that a key endorser for AD50 candidate Betsy Butler, WeHo City Councilman John Duran, has set up a legal defense fund and hired a criminal defense attorney after meeting with the district attorney's office regarding an inquiry it launched in 2011 about possible misuse of city credit cards.

West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran has set up a legal defense fund in the event the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office decides to file criminal charges against him for improper use of his city credit card. 
The district attorney began an inquiry in March 2011 after information surfaced during the city council election campaign about possible misuse of city credit cards by City Hall employees. In late August, the district attorney then requested additional documents pertaining to Duran’s expenses as a city councilman. (Duran served as mayor from April 2011 to April 2012.) 
Duran had charges for 128 meals from 2008 to 2010 totaling approximately $7,000.
Patch is also reporting Duran hired criminal defense attorney George Bird to represent him.

“John Duran is an honest, decent public servant who at all times conducted himself ethically and within the bounds of the law,” Bird reportedly told Patch.

The probe was originally launched when WeHo resident Ed Buck reportedly filed a complaint during the heated 2011 City Council elections alleging that some incumbent Council members and their staff had racked up $13,000 worth of improper charges on city credit cards.

Community Activist Ed Buck  
Local activist Ed Buck, who uncovered the documents after a prolonged public records request, said he is glad the DA is conducting the inquiry. 
“Whether or not this rises up to the level of criminal charges, it’s wrong,” said Buck. “It’s ethically wrong. It’s morally wrong.” 
Buck noted that there have been rumors about City Hall misuse of credit cards circulating for years, but no one could ever prove it.
While the DA's initial probe included what Patch characterized as a "wide range" of documents from City Hall, in late August of 2011 the DA's office began to narrow their focus, requesting additional documents from Duran as well as two other city employees.

Duran is the only person of interest in the probe who's announced setting up a legal defense fund or hiring a criminal defense attorney.

In January, Duran, a key supporter of AD50 candidate Betsy Butler, infamously blew up at Butler's opponent, Torie Osborn, during the West Hollywood/Beverly Hills democratic club endorsement meeting after Butler lost the club's endorsement in a close vote.

Duran caught on video yelling at Butler opponent Torie Osborn

Ironically, Osborn's campaign was prepared to accept a dual endorsement of both Butler and Osborn as recommended by the club's board, when long-time club member and Butler supporter Jeanne Dobrin inexplicably demanded a vote be called to deny the dual endorsement.

Dobrin's motion led to a series of votes which ultimately resulted in Osborn walking away with the club's sole endorsement.

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