Complaint issued against Compton City Clerk
The District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division will decide whether charges will be filed for criminal wrongdoing
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City Clerk Aleta Godwin under cloud of suspicion for allegedly misappropriating duties of her office
COMPTON — Longtime City Clerk Aleta Godwin is facing a probe by the Los Angeles County District Attorney for the alleged illegal handling of money in violation of the City Charter, the Compton Herald has learned.
On the heels of revelations that ex-deputy city treasurer Salvador Galvan embezzled $3.7 million from city coffers over a six-year period, Godwin, who is seeking a fourth term, is now under scrutiny for a complaint issued against her for “unaccounted revenues and expenditures for merchandise, and collecting and holding cash in a cashbox and [maintaining] a secret account.”
The dollar amount total is $200,000, which the complaint alleges came, in part, from sales of tee shirts emblazoned with the Compton city seal. The practice raises serious issues — sales out of the city clerk’s office, illegal use of the city seal, and holding cash in a lockbox — all violations of the city charter.
According to Section 701 of the city charter, “The City Treasurer shall be the custodian of all public funds belonging to or under the control of the City, or of any office, department or agency thereof, and to that end shall have power and be required to:
(a) Receive and have custody of all monies receivable by the City from any source; (b) Deposit all monies received in such depositories as may be designated by resolution of the City Council and in compliance with all of the provisions of the State Constitution and laws of the State governing the handling, depositing, and securing of public funds.
According to the complaint, Godwin, who earns $115,000 per year, was questioned about the impropriety at a city council meeting on Feb. 14, 2017, and admitted to maintaining a cash box and an account that had been started in 2006. She also said the money had been “counted to the penny” by her, City Treasurer Douglas Sanders, and members of his staff.
To complicate matters, one week later at the Feb. 21 council meeting, Godwin recanted her testimony about the sum total of the office cash, changing it to $173,253.99.
The complaint also alleges that “many people bought City of Compton logo merchandise from the city clerk’s office” with cash without receiving receipts for purchase.
Additionally, the complaint alleges Godwin’s sons own the rights to the Compton seal under the business name “City of Grind,” which would appear to be illegal since the City of Compton owns the city seal and a function of the city clerk is to be the custodian of the seal per the city charter.
The District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division will ultimately decide Godwin’s culpability in the matter, and whether charges will be filed for criminal wrongdoing.
The Herald reached out to Godwin for comment but none was received as of this writing.
The Herald will provide updates on this story in the coming weeks.