Lady  Justice

Trial was ordered Thursday for a Los Angeles city councilman’s former aide and the man’s wife, who are accused of involvement in an elaborate scheme in which personal expenses were allegedly paid on behalf of a now-former member of the West Basin Municipal Water District board.

Superior Court Judge Eric C. Taylor denied a request by the defense to dismiss the case against Robert Earl Katherman Jr., a 68-year-old former aide to Councilman Curren Price Jr., and his wife, Marilyn Katherman, 66, according to Deputy District Attorney Dana Aratani.

The two, who face one felony count each of misappropriation of public funds and embezzlement, were charged last July along with Ronald Craig Smith, 55, who was on the water district’s board of directors.

Smith pleaded guilty Sept. 8 to one count of conflict of interest, and submitted his resignation to the water district as a condition of his plea deal. He was sentenced to 180 days in county jail and five years probation, and was ordered to pay more than $17,000 in restitution to the water district.

Prosecutors said Smith got the water district’s board to make multiple contributions to help sponsor the Adopt A Storm Drain Foundation, a nonprofit educational foundation run by the Kathermans to promote water conservation. Smith also contributed money from his district outreach fund that did not require board approval.

Prosecutors allege that the Kathermans began writing checks from foundation accounts to schools and

organizations without any connection to the foundation shortly after receiving the donations from the West Basin Municipal Water District. The money allegedly went toward tuition for Smith’s son and two daughters, along with a $3,500 check to repair his boat.

Robert Katherman’s attorney, Mark Werksman, maintained that his client is innocent.

“We will challenge this case every step of the way because Robert Katherman is an innocent man,” Werksman said after the two-day preliminary hearing. “Robert Katherman believed that the funds disbursed by the foundation were for appropriate uses.”

Marilyn Katherman’s attorney could not be reached for comment after the hearing.

City News Service

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.