DA still pursuing embezzlement conviction

Joe Aklufi, former city attorney for Beaumont, and one of seven city officials charged with embezzlement, had his Thursday, Feb. 22, hearing continued to May 18.

Aklufi is the only one of the seven who has not pleaded guilty to the effort to take more than $43 million from the city earlier this century. All of the other defendants have pleaded guilty and agreed to return funds.

All were initially arrested and charged in May 2016. By November 2017, the others had succumbed to the District Attorney’s case against them.

Last week, the DA’s office filed a statement with the court that it would only pursue one count of embezzlement of public funds against Aklufi, although more were initially filed.

In the statement, the DA reported that several of the co-defendants said Aklufi knew about the embezzlement scheme.

David Dillon, a consultant who was charged and confessed, claimed, “My decision to engage in this course of conduct and to follow this plan of action was arrived at, developed and implemented in consultation with and based upon the guidance of City Attorney Joseph Aklufi.”

Three others also stated that they worked with Aklufi and relied upon his advice during the embezzlement period.

Also, several staff, who questioned where the missing funds were, stated that when they asked Aklufi, he advised that there was no problem and all was fine.

Aklufi’s defense attorney has not responded yet, and the court simply moved the next hearing to May.

Aklufi of Riverside is the former Idyllwild Water District counsel.