LOS ANGELES – Five new counts were added Wednesday to a criminal complaint alleging that Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford conspired with two consultants by receiving more than $60,000 a year from a nonprofit and not disclosing the income on economic statements, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Ledford, 64, and co-defendants Kimberly Anne Shaw, 62, and Susan Burgess Miller, 69, appeared in court Wednesday, Jan. 31, but their arraignment was postponed until March 28.
Ledford is charged in a second amended felony complaint with one count each of conspiracy and conflict of interest, and three counts of perjury. He also faces one misdemeanor count of using an official position for personal gain.
Shaw also was charged with conspiracy, as well as one count of embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, and four counts of filing a false tax return. Miller faces one count each of conspiracy, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds.
The defendants allegedly used various shell companies to pay Ledford about $5,200 a month between 2009 and 2017, according to the complaint.
Shaw had been a consultant for the city of Palmdale for the past 20 years, and with Miller’s assistance, ran the AERO Institute, which received more than $2 million annually from NASA.
Miller operated a company known as Complex Culture Change Consulting and hired Ledford in 2009. Over a four-year period, AERO Institute paid the consulting firm more than $13,000 every month and the consulting firm, in turn, allegedly paid Ledford $5,200 per month.
Prosecutors allege Ledford did not perform any substantive work for AERO Institute during that time frame. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Ledford is accused of not reporting the income he received from AERO Institute on economic disclosure statements.
Shaw is accused of claiming on her tax forms on behalf of AERO Institute that the nonprofit organization had a board of directors which held meetings and kept minutes and agendas. However, several people listed on the tax forms as board members were unaware they were board members, never served on the board and never attended any board meetings, prosecutors said.
Shaw also allegedly repeatedly failed to disclose in the AERO Institute tax forms that she received over $150,000 annually from AERO in consulting fees, prosecutors added.
The Palmdale City Council voted to boost Shaw’s consultant contract in 2012 to an amount not to exceed $3.9 million over seven years. Ledford allegedly failed to reveal at the time that he was indirectly receiving income from AERO Institute, a nonprofit organization that had a $1 annual lease of Palmdale public property.
If convicted as charged, Ledford faces a possible maximum sentence of four years and eight months in state prison,while Shaw and Miller face up to four years in prison.
Deputy District Attorneys Russell Moore and Stefan Mrakich of the Public Integrity Division are prosecuting the case.
The case remains under investigation by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation.
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