LOS ANGELES — Former Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford’s criminal corruption case is on hold until 2020, meaning the proceedings are approaching three years since charges were originally filed without any resolution.
The preliminary hearing, to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial, has started and stopped several times since beginning in a Los Angeles court room on Sept. 4. This week, continuation of the hearing was postponed again to Jan. 22, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
Representatives with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office did not give a reason for the delay.
After six days of hearings beginning Sept. 4, the preliminary hearing proceedings were halted until Sept. 23, then postponed again for more than two weeks.
After returning to the courtroom on Oct. 9, the hearing was again put on hold two days later.
They restarted on Nov. 6 and ran through Nov. 8, before another hiatus until Monday, when the latest postponement to next year was made.
Ledford faces five felony counts in the case, in which he and two co-defendants are accused of conspiring to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars in NASA funds from a Palmdale-based nonprofit educational organization the co-defendants ran.
Prosecutors allege Ledford was paid $60,000 a year without performing any substantial work for the organization, the AERO Institute.
The court proceedings have entailed a series of delays from the beginning.
Ledford pleaded not guilty to the charges on Aug. 22, 2018, more than a year after they were initially filed on June 21, 2017, as the arraignment was postponed six times. Additional charges were filed in January 2018.
The start of the preliminary hearing was also postponed five times, before commencing on Sept. 4.
Ledford’s co-defendants, former AERO Institute executive director Susan Miller and former AERO Institute president and city consultant Kimberly Shaw, also pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
He was originally charged with criminal conspiracy and conflict of interest in voting in 2012, to award a seven-year city contract worth up to $3.9 million to Shaw, and three counts of perjury for allegedly failing to report income from the Institute on financial disclosure statements.
In January 2018, an additional misdemeanor charge was filed against Ledford, accusing him of using an official position for personal gain.
The amended complaint accuses him of voting in 2016, to sell the building containing the Palmdale and Antelope Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce offices to the Institute, which prosecutors say was secretly paying him more than $60,000 a year.
Shaw, a Yorba Linda resident; and Miller, of Las Vegas, were originally charged with conspiracy, grand theft by embezzlement of public funds and misappropriation of public funds.
In January 2018, additional charges were filed against Shaw, saying she failed to disclose on AERO Institute tax forms, for the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 tax years, that the Institute paid her consulting company more than $100,000 in 2012, more than $150,000 in 2013, more than $150,000 in 2014 and more than $150,000 in 2015.
According to the original criminal complaint filed by the District Attorney’s office, Shaw was a paid consultant to the AERO Institute, first under the name Shaw and Associates and then, starting in March 2013, as RL&M Management. RL&M Management was paid $12,581.67 monthly by the Institute, or $150,980 a year.
Based on payment amounts alleged in the initial criminal complaint, Ledford was paid approximately $500,000 between August 2009 and September 2014, through Miller’s companies, whose income the complaint said came almost entirely from the Institute and between September 2014 and May 2017, directly from the Institute. Miller’s companies received more than $821,000 between August 2009 and September 2014 from the Institute, according to payment amounts alleged in the initial criminal complaint.
The total amount paid to Shaw’s companies could not be calculated from the criminal complaint, which does not say when she began receiving Institute payments but the amount was at least $629,000 between March 2013 and June 2017, according to the initial complaint.