Last of seven Beaumont officials to plead guilty

Joseph Aklufi, 71, former Beaumont city attorney, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor (Gov. Code sec. 1222) in the case charging him with embezzlement of funds from the city of Beaumont.

Aklufi, the former legal counsel for Idyllwild Water District, was arrested in May 2016, along with six other former Beaumont city officials.

Along with Aklulfi, Alan Kapanicas, former city manager, William Aylward, former city finance director, Deepak Moorjani, the former head of public works, and David Dillon, former planning chief, Ernest Egger, head of economic development, and Francis Coe, the former police chief, were all charged with conflict of interest and embezzlement of public funds, totaling nearly $43 million.

The 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 diverting money to a private company owned by three of the defendants.

By November 2017, Aklufi was the only one of the seven who had not pleaded guilty to the effort to take money from the City. All of the other defendants, except for Coe, have pleaded guilty to felonies and agreed to return funds.

On Friday, Sept. 14, Aklufi did plead guilty to the misdemeanor count of willful omission to perform his official duties.

Judge John Molloy sentenced him to three years of summary probation and order Aklufi to pay $30,000 in restitution. He was given credit for times served of 21 days.