Ex-South Gate Treasurer Albert Robles Released From Federal Prison

Wednesday December 4, 2013, 4:51 p.m.

By Randy Economy and Brian Hews

Hews Media Group-Community News has learned that convicted felon Albert T. Robles, a former South Gate Treasurer and Mayor, has been released from federal prison after spending nearly a decade behind bars.

Robles, who is now 48, was released on November 29.

Information about Robles official release was posted on a web site from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Robles was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after for masterminding a scheme to bilk $20 million out of the coffers of South Gate for his own personal gain.

At the time of his sentencing, Robles said that he had acted “immorally” during his years as a leader in South Gate, but maintained his innocence and said he never broke the law.

It is not known where Robles is currently residing since his release, but word of his release has already circulated around Southeast Los Angeles County.

Current South Gate Mayor Gilbert Hurtado said that he has not spoken to Robles since his release, and has no plans to talk to him any time soon.

“I hear that Mr. Robles is out of jail. I feel that the courts and the legal system put him in jail, and now that he is a free man, perhaps he learned his lesson,” Hurtado said.

Robles served as an elected official in the predominantly working class Latino city of 100,000 for nearly a dozen years.

Many considered Robles to be a “political rock star on the rise” when he became the city’s youngest mayor at age 26, and eventually gained control of its entire government in 2001.

Robles was eventually tossed out of office in a volatile recall campaign that also ended the political careers of three other political allies in 2003.

At the time of his ouster, Robles took the city into near bankruptcy, having lost more than $12 million as a direct result of corruption, prosecutors said.

Robles used South Gate’s resources to funnel money to his own brother, mother, and a former girlfriend. Robles at the time also fired the city attorney of South Gate, and gave the job to his mother’s divorce lawyer, who admitted having no experience in government law.

Robles was found guilty of 30 counts felony bribery, money laundering and depriving the voters of South Gate of honest services.

Even though Robles was convicted in July 2005, his sentencing took nearly an additional year to complete its way through the legal system.

Between 1996 and 2001, Robles was elected to and served as a Director of the Central Basin Municipal Water District, based in Commerce. Ironically, that same public agency is now a focal point of another massive probe by FBI officials, this time focused around the activities of California State Senator Ronald Calderon, and his brother former Assemblyman Thomas Calderon.

In 1997, when Robles was elected to the city treasurer position in South Gate, he was also serving the same time as an elected Director of the Central Basin Municipal Water District.

In 2002 Robles was appointed by the City Council to the Deputy City Manager position.

In 2003 Robles was recalled along with Mayor Xochitl Ruvalcaba, Vice Mayor Raul Moriel, and Councilwoman Maria Benavides in an election that was monitored by Los Angeles County by order of Governor Gray Davis. Even after that recall election, Robles still retained his position as Deputy City Manager.

Legal controversies have followed Robles throughout his entire political career. Robles was accused of making threatening statements to then California State Senator Martha Escutia and Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh.

Robles was tried in 2002 in the case involving Escutia and Firebaugh, but all charges were dismissed when the jury deadlocked on all counts. Robles attorney at the time argued that his statements were merely the kind of language typical of South Gate politicians and not literal threats.

Escutia, is now a partner in a Newport Beach law firm. Firebaugh died in 2006 after complications from a liver ailment.

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