Crooked L.A. Building Inspector Will Keep Pension Despite Imprisonment and State Law

Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Samuel In


A former Los Angeles city building inspector, busted by the FBI, is going to prison for two and a half years for accepting bribes, but the 66-year-old is still eligible to collect his $72,000-a-year pension.

It's a good thing Samuel In worked for the city and not the state. California revised the legal code in 2013 to eliminate any exceptions to the law that denied pensions to public employees or officials who commit felonies. Los Angeles, a charter city that manages its own pensions, is not bound by that state law and is more lenient.

L.A. public employees who are convicted of a felony only lose the retirement benefits they earned while they committed their crimes. In is the third city building inspector convicted of taking bribes in recent years. Hugo Joel Gonzalez got a year and a half in prison in October 2011 for accepting a $9,000 bribe from an FBI agent, a month after Raoul Joseph Germain was sentenced to 21 months for a similar offense.

They will, presumably, also get their pensions.

In, a 37-year senior inspector who retired in 2011, was convicted in federal court of taking $30,000 in bribes between 2007 and 2010. U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson called it a “deliberate, long-running pattern of corruption.” So it's safe to say In's career take was probably a tad higher.

He also may have done more damage than is presently known. The prosecutor, who recommended the eventual sentence, warned the court in a memo that In took “bribes in return for approving numerous building projects that may or may not have been safe.”

In's attorney, argued that his client deserved the money—the pension, not the bribes—because, “He did a lot of good in the community, not only for the department but for civic groups.”

The pension isn't the only benefit In will keep. He is eligible for a healthcare subsidy of $1,459 a month, according to Tom Moutes, an official at the City Employees' Retirement System.

After the Los Angeles Times publicized In's pension on Monday, two weeks after his sentencing, the city council asked the city attorney to draft a law that bars anyone on the public payroll convicted of a felony from receiving a pension. City attorney spokesman Rob Wilcox said the proposed ordinance only apply to people hired after its passage.

Crooks currently on the payroll are grandfathered in.

‒Ken Broder


To Learn More:

L.A. Councilman Pushes for Convicted Workers to Lose City Pensions (by David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times)

Samuel In: Third L.A. Building Inspector in Bribery Scandal (by Dennis Romero, LA Weekly)

L.A. Building Inspector Convicted in Bribery will Keep City Pension (by David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times)

Former Los Angeles City Building Inspector Sentenced to Federal Prison for Taking Tens of Thousands of Dollars in Bribe Payments (Federal Bureau of Investigation)


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