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Four California officials accused of seeing plays, games on city dime

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • A Irwindale, California City Council member is among those charged
  • Prosecutors allege they misappropriated about $14,000
  • Four accused of attending Broadway shows, baseball games while on business

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Four Irwindale, California, city officials are facing charges for allegedly attending Broadway shows and baseball games while in New York on city business, the Los Angeles district attorney's office said Wednesday.

Those charged include Irwindale City Council member Mark Breceda, 50, along with retired City Manager Steve Blancarte, 56; Finance Drector Abe De Dios, 65; and former Councilwoman Rosemary Ramirez, 49, according to Nipa Cook, deputy district attorney with the office's public integrity division. All four are charged with misappropriation of public funds, prosecutors said.

Between 2001 and 2005, the four traveled to New York "for up to six days at a time, allegedly in an effort to get a higher bond rating for the city," the statement said. "However, prosecutors allege that during each trip, the officials bought tickets to Broadway shows and sporting events that had nothing to do with city business."

The four allegedly attended plays, including "Aida," "The Producers," "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Mamma Mia," the district attorney's office said. They also allegedly attended New York Yankees and New York Mets games.

The estimated loss is about $14,000, prosecutors said.

Breceda, Blancarte and Ramirez were set to appear in court for arraignment Wednesday morning, prosecutors said. De Dios, who was out of town, is set for arraignment Thursday.

In September, eight current and former officials from the city of Bell, California, were arrested and face charges, including misappropriation of funds, conflict of interest and making or receiving illegal loans. Prosecutors allege the officials misappropriated more than $5.5 million, were paid for phantom council meetings and deliberately misled citizens about how much they were paid.