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Hawthorne Mayor Juarez surrenders to authorities

Hawthorne Mayor Daniel Juarez. (27319)
Hawthorne Mayor Daniel Juarez.

HAWTHORNE, Calif. — Hawthorne Mayor Danny Juarez, already facing perjury charges for allegedly funneling campaign money into his personal bank account, surrendered today on new perjury charges and pleaded not guilty.

All together, Juarez is alleged to have deposited about $25,000 in political donations into his personal bank account, then failed to disclose the sources, as required by state law.

Juarez was originally indicted Oct. 17, 2012, on two counts of perjury by declaration for allegedly receiving $2,000 from a business to pay off campaign debts and failing to disclose it on campaign forms.

Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman said the new charges, filed Monday, arose from an ongoing investigation.

According to prosecutors, the alleged crimes occurred between March 2009 and March 2012. In one instance, Juarez allegedly received $2,500 from the American Youth Soccer Organization and claimed to have donated it to the Officer Andrew Garton Memorial Fund, prosecutors said.

Garton, 44, a Hawthorne police officer, was killed in a motorcycle wreck May 26, 2011, while escorting a funeral motorcade for a Manhattan Beach police officer who died of cancer. Garton collided with El Segundo police Sgt. Rex Fowler, who also was escorting the motorcade on a motorcycle. Fowler suffered a broken leg.

Juarez denied the latest charges today, and the judge set a new court date for Sept. 13.

Prosecutors also contend that Juarez received money from individuals and businesses including Gold’s Gym and the Islamic Center of Hawthorne, telling them the funds would be used to pay off campaign debts but instead depositing the money in his personal accounts and failing to report the donations.

If convicted, Juarez faces up to five years in state prison. He was elected to the Hawthorne City Council in 2007 and is the second Hawthorne mayor to face legal troubles.

Larry Guidi was the city’s mayor when he was charged in June 2010 with the theft of a commercial food mixer taken from the Hawthorne School District, where he worked as a warehouse operations manager.

Guidi pleaded guilty Feb. 8, 2012, to a felony grand theft charge and was sentenced to one year on probation and 100 hours of community service.