Former Idyllwild Water attorney arrested as part of Beaumont corruption case

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Former Idyllwild Water District legal counsel Joe Aklufi was arrested Tuesday, May 17, along with six other former Beaumont city officials.

Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin filed charges against all seven former city officials for public corruption. Specifically, Aklufi, the former Beaumont city attorney, was charged with six counts of embezzlement.

He is currently in jail on a $1 million bail. A preliminary hearing has been set for Thursday, May 26.

The other six men included the former city manager, former city finance director, former heads of the planning, economic development and public works departments, and the former police chief.

The alleged embezzlement involved misuse of taxes collected from Beaumont’s Community Facility District, which was established in the 1990s. In 2003, the city of Beaumont adopted an ordinance mandating that the city collect the Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fee on all new development. Under the law adopted by the city, the TUMF was required to be sent to the Western Riverside Council of Governments to be pooled with fees from other areas of Riverside County and used on regionally significant transportation projects.

This never happened because these officials were allegedly diverting money to a private company owned by three of the defendants.

While IWD is still using his firm, Aklufi and Wysocki, General Manager Tom Lynch said Aklufi is retired and IWD has no need to seek different counsel. David Wysocki succeeded Aklufi as city attorney and retired in May 2015.

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