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Former California Assemblyman gets probation for defrauding banks

Former  Assemblyman Carl Washington. (24646)
Former Assemblyman Carl Washington.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A former assemblyman, who was fired from his job with the Los Angeles County Probation Department, was himself sentenced to probation today for bilking financial institutions by falsely claiming to be the victim of identity theft.

Carl Washington, 47, of Paramount admitted masterminding a four-year scheme in which he obtained credit cards and loans from banks and credit unions, racking up thousands of dollars in charges for airline tickets, hotels, restaurants, rental cars and cash advances, according to a plea agreement filed in February.

U.S. District Judge S. James Otero sentenced Washington to a day in custody and three years of supervised release, including one year of home confinement with electronic monitoring, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas M. Miller.

The former politician was also ordered to pay nearly $194,000 in restitution, Miller said.

In sentencing Washington, Otero emphasized the defendant’s many years of public service, according to the prosecutor.

Washington was among nearly 50 employees arrested since January 2012 in a year-long probe of alleged misconduct among Probation Department staffers.

“Where we have found misconduct, we have taken strong and immediate action,” Probation Department Chief Jerry Powers said previously. “These cases represent a tiny minority of the 6,000 men and women who do work with integrity for this department. But any misconduct impugns the reputation of all. We will not stand for it.”

Washington, who admitted operating the bank fraud scheme from February 2007 to August 2011, was terminated from his job as the probation department’s director for intergovernmental relations and legislative affairs.

According to court papers, Washington obtained about $194,000 in goods, cash and services, then filed police reports, claiming to be the victim of identity theft and reporting that the cards and loans had been opened by someone unknown to him.

Washington subsequently filed a copy of the bogus police report with Experian, one of the three major credit reporting agencies, in order to have the charges and past due amounts removed from his credit report, according to the indictment.

Once Experian removed the charges, Washington applied for new credit cards without disclosing his outstanding debts or the fact that he had charges and unpaid balances removed from his credit report, according to federal prosecutors.

When new credit cards were issued, Washington again ran up debts worth another couple of thousand dollars and filed yet another police report, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported.

A Democrat from Compton who represented Paramount, Washington began his legislative service in 1996, and was active in fighting street gangs. He was termed out in 2002 and lost a race for a Los Angeles City Council seat to Jan Perry.

Prior to his legislative service, he served on the staff of former county Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke.