COMPTON — A state appeals court panel has upheld former Compton Mayor Omar Bradley’s conviction for misappropriating and misusing taxpayer funds.
In a ruling released late May 6, the three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Bradley’s contention that insufficient evidence and incorrect jury instructions mandated reversal of his July 2017 conviction on the two felony counts.
“We conclude reversal is not warranted,” the panel found in its 25-page ruling.
Bradley was sentenced in August 2017 to three years probation, along with a year in county jail that he had already served.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli suspended a three-year state prison term that Bradley will not have to serve if he complies with the terms of his probation. He cited Bradley’s age and lack of prior criminal history.
Bradley told reporters after the hearing that he was “very thankful” to the judge.
“You know, he looked at my age, my propensity to do wrong, which before this incident I had never even had a speeding ticket, and he said enough is enough and I’m thankful to him for that,” the then 59-year-old former mayor said.
Bradley questioned how much the District Attorney’s Office — which tried the case against him a second time after his 2004 conviction was overturned — spent “to come up with an outcome that says I’m prohibited from running for office.”
“I bet it was more than the alleged $6,500 that they say I misappropriated,” Bradley said. “In my opinion, just my humble opinion, the justice system has gotten way off track and certainly with the money that was expended to make a point with me because I am an outspoken African-American male who doesn’t bite his tongue could have been spent on some really important things.”
Bradley was found guilty in his second trial of one felony count each of misappropriation of public funds by a public officer and misuse of public funds by a public officer for personal gain.
He was first convicted in 2004, sentenced to three years in prison and then later moved to a halfway house. But his conviction was reversed in 2012 as a result of a California Supreme Court ruling involving crimes by public officials. While awaiting a retrial, he unsuccessfully ran for mayor against Aja Brown.
At his retrial, Bradley testified that he never used any city money for personal expenses. He insisted that any city dollars he spent were for the benefit of Compton.
During two days on the stand, the former mayor testified that he had played golf with officials in order to discuss several city projects, and bought golf clothing to look the part.
Deputy Public Defender Robert J. Hill told jurors that the charges against Bradley were “false.” He said his client acted openly and transparently and knew he was “under scrutiny.”
Deputy District Attorney Ana Lopez countered that Bradley’s spending was “purely personal” and offered “no public benefit.”
“The word here is accountability,” she told jurors in the retrial.
The prosecutor said Bradley clearly understood the rules, but that accountability for spending became “very relaxed” in Compton after the city council approved a resolution authorizing the issuance of city credit cards to council members without any public comment on the issue.
Bradley — who was born and raised in Compton — was a city councilman between 1991 and 1993 and mayor from 1993 until 2001.
This article originally appeared in the Wave Newspapers.