Yesterday should have been the day several Palmdale residents have been waiting for — the preliminary hearing in former mayor Jim Ledford’s trial.
Hopefully it happened and is over, but there’s always the possibility that it was postponed again. The big question on everyone’s mind is, what’s the hold up?
According to a Valley Press Staff Report in Wednesday’s paper, 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, run by the co-defendants.
Ledford was allegedly paid $60,000 a year without performing any substantial work for the organization.
That’s not a bad salary for doing nothing, right?
However, he pleaded not guilty to the charges on Aug. 22, 2018, more than a year after they were initially filed on June 21, 2017. That’s a long time for the wheels of justice to get moving. Now we’re in September 2019 and he is just now getting a preliminary hearing. What’s taking so long? Is it a move by his attorney to try and reschedule multiple times, hoping that it’ll buy them some time to figure out their next move? Or is it simply a matter of the justice system moving so slowly? Or maybe all parties involved had other things going on and couldn’t make it to the court dates at the same time and had to reschedule? There are many possibilities, but we’re not sure what the real story is.
What we do know is that there are some residents who aren’t happy with Ledford’s alleged actions and are glad he’s no longer the mayor of Palmdale. We don’t have an opinion on that matter, but will say that if he was involved in malfeasance, then he must be held accountable. This doesn’t apply to just him, but any other public official, to include School Board members and others involved in handling public money.
Speaking of School Board members, it appears that the Palmdale Elementary School District has finally concluded their investigation into the noose photo incident at Summerwind Elementary.
District Public Information Officer David Garcia of Garcia Hernandez and Sawhney, sent out a press release Tuesday night, saying, “The Superintendent’s office at the Palmdale Elementary School District received word today that the formal investigation into a single incident involving four-grade school teachers and their principal this past May has been completed, and the report will be in its final draft form. Superintendent Raul Maldonado asked the Board to schedule a special meeting so the report can be presented as soon as possible.”
We’re hoping this report will shed some light on the incident and answer the questions everyone has been asking since it happened, but we remain cautiously optimistic because there’s a chance that the report will not reveal any new information, but rather much of the same rhetoric we’ve been hearing since May.
We’re also interested in know what, if any punishment, the teachers will be subjected to. Linda Brandt left the District and the area and is now employed elsewhere, so it’s unlikely she will be punished. Reporter Julie Drake will continue to follow this story and bring you the latest.