Testimony: Councilman Paid For Lavish Meals On City Credit
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A city councilman accused of misusing public funds treated people to lavish meals at the city’s expense even when he was not conducting official business, according to unsealed grand jury transcripts.
The 1,000-page transcripts of the county grand jury’s investigation were released Tuesday, a day after Councilman Uvaldo Martinez lost his final attempt to keep them secret.
Martinez was indicted last month on 28 felony counts of misappropriating public funds for personal use and of filing false expense records.
The indictment covers 21 meal and drink charges totaling nearly $1,880 on a city-issued credit card in 1984 and 1985.
Martinez pleaded innocent to the charges and faces trial June 30. He declined to comment.
Fifteen of the counts against Martinez involve his buying meals or drinks for three women, including Helen Bird, head of the city’s litter-control department. Martinez reported all those outings as business with civic leaders.
Bird testified that she and Martinez had a personal relationship and were ″very, very close.″ She said their two meals were held to discuss city business. But on reports Martinez filed with the city auditor, two local developers were listed as his guests.
Also detailed in the transcript is a July 24 meeting at a restaurant when Martinez allegedly struck up a conversation with three women.
The women testified the evening was strictly social but that Martinez paid their bar bill with his city credit card.
Martinez reported the charges as having come from business meetings with a developer, according to court documents.
″I didn’t even know who the guy was until some drunk guy at the end of the bar said, ‘Hey, this guy is going to be our next mayor,’ ″ said Laura Utz, one of the women.
Martinez at the time had expressed interest in running for mayor because of the legal problems facing Mayor Roger Hedgecock who resigned Dec. 10 after he was convicted of perjury and conspiracy.