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Monday, May 20, 2013
Attorney for ex-COG chief Nick Conway files motion to have criminal charges dismissed
Trial of former COG chief scheduled to begin May 30 in Los Angeles County Criminal Court
The trial of Nick
Conway, the former executive director of the San Gabriel Valley Council
of Governments, is scheduled to begin May 30 in front of Judge Norm
Shapiro in Los Angeles County Criminal Court.
Before the trial can proceed, however, the judge first will consider a
motion filed by Conway's attorney on Wednesday to dismiss the charges
pending against his client.
In the motion, Conway's attorney argues that Judge M.L. Villar de
Longoria was mistaken when she held his client to answer to four
criminal charges of conflict of interest at the conclusion of the
preliminary hearing. The charges are related to four contracts Conway
managed for the regional planning body while he was heading up his own
for-profit company, Arroyo Associates, which managed the public agency.
At issue is whether Conway personally benefitted from the contracts,
for which the COG approved amendments and extra costs amounting to at
least $148,000, according to evidence presented at the preliminary
hearing this winter.
"He sought out contracts that benefited him," said Judge Villar de
Longoria after she ruled there was enough evidence to proceed with a
Conway's attorney, Kenneth White, wrote in the motion that Conway had
acted entirely according to the COG's Strategic Plan laid out by the
COG board of directors and approved by the COG's attorneys. In an email
to this newspaper, White wrote: "I've consistently said that all contracts,
and the negotiations thereof, were part of a strategy explicitly
directed by the Board, were approved at every stage by the Board, and
were approved by the COG's general counsel."
Assistant District Attorney Dana Aratani said he just received the
motion to dismiss charges and will be preparing a response within the
next five or so days.
"Essentially, the evidence supports the charges that he was held to
answer for," Aratani said Wednesday. "There were others that knew of the
conflict of interest or might have suspected the conflict."
Government Code section 1090 prohibits public officials from having
any financial interest in any contract made by them in their official
capacity, according to the D.A.'s Office.
If convicted, Conway faces a maximum of seven years in state prison, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Conway headed up the COG for 17 years until Oct. 31, when he was
fired. All contracts with Arroyo Associates were terminated. Conway was
granted $155,000 in severance pay.
The COG hired acting San Bernardino City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller as its new executive director.
Conway, 61, who had previously posted $100,000 bail, was released on his own recognizance in February.