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Former Compton city official pleads guilty in embezzlement case


Compton’s former deputy treasurer agreed this week to plead guilty to a federal charge of stealing more than $3.7 million in city funds.

Salvador Galvan, 47, of La Mirada, is expected to formally enter his plea to one federal count of theft from an organization receiving federal funds at a date yet to be determined.

The felony charge carries a possible maximum prison sentence of 10 years, but prosecutors agreed to recommend a term of no more than three years and 10 months, according to the document, which also outlines agreed-upon restitution of $3.72 million.

Galvan’s plea agreement is what’s known as a “package deal” that will not go into effect until his wife, Rosa, pleads guilty to the same charge, the document states. Federal prosecutors are expected to file a charge against her as well.

Galvan, who has been in custody since his arrest in March, appeared Tuesday afternoon in shackles and white jail clothing before a federal magistrate judge in Los Angeles, who transferred the case to U.S. District Judge Josephine Stanton at the Santa Ana federal courthouse.

According to the charging document, Compton’s then-deputy city treasurer skimmed cash from City Hall over a six-year period, taking anywhere from $200 to $8,000 a day. The losses were small enough that they didn’t trigger alarm, but fellow employees said they wondered how Galvan could afford a new Audi and other expenses on a $60,000 salary, according to court papers.

Galvan, who worked in the Compton Treasurer’s Office for more than 20 years, was responsible for tallying the cash received by the city as payment for parking tickets, business licenses and other fees. After the cash was counted, Galvan prepared the money for deposit into a city bank account, according to court documents.

The FBI interviewed Galvan’s supervisor, who “reflected about Galvan’s time in the office, his unexplained affluence, and his generosity,” according to an affidavit.

The supervisor told investigators that Galvan went from driving an “old Toyota” to increasingly luxurious vehicles, including the black Audi sedan.

The affidavit also states that Galvan told his supervisor that he purchased a residence in La Mirada and demolished the house so he could rebuild it.

“The people of Compton deserved better,” acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown said previously. “This defendant stole millions of dollars intended to help residents, placing his own greed over their interests.”

Galvan was arrested late last year by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on suspicion of stealing city funds. The federal case that led to Galvan’s arrest resulted from further investigation by the FBI.

Deirdre Fike, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said Galvan “violated the trust of the public he served by stealing money designated for the betterment of the Compton community.”

“By operating a scheme whereby he skimmed Compton city coffers to live beyond his means, Mr. Galvan faces significant federal charges and time behind bars,” she said in March.

Compton Mayor Aja Brown previously said the city is working to strengthen its financial controls “to prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future.”

“Over the last several years, this city council has worked to approve new internal controls, improve our fiscal accountability and root out corruption and wasteful spending at every opportunity in an effort to be good custodians of our residents’ tax dollars,” Brown said at the time of Galvan’s arrest.

“Let me be clear. Any city official who has been found to have breeched their duties as stewards of the public trust will be held accountable for their actions and relieved of duty,” Brown said.