Chief of Los Angeles Port Police Named in Federal Corruption Case
LOS ANGELES—A federal grand jury today indicted the chief of police for the Port of Los Angeles on corruption and tax charges. The corruption charges in the indictment relate to a scheme in which the chief stood to financially benefit from the development of a social networking program that would become the official smartphone app for the Port and would then be marketed to other law enforcement agencies.
Ronald Jerome Boyd, 57, of Torrance, who in January was named as chief of public safety and emergency management at the port, was charged in a 16-count indictment returned by a grand jury. The indictment accuses Boyd of corruption, lying to FBI agents, failing to file federal corporate tax returns for a private security company he created, and tax evasion.
At the center of the case are four “honest services” wire fraud charges that accuse Boyd of executing “a scheme to defraud the citizens of the City of Los Angeles and the Harbor Department for the City of Los Angeles of their right to the honest services of defendant Boyd by means of bribery and kickbacks, materially false and fraudulent pretenses and representations, and the concealment of material facts.” The corruption scheme centers on a program called Portwatch, which was developed to provide information to the public and to allow citizens to report criminal activity at the port.
In 2011, Boyd and two business partners formed BDB Digital Communications, a company that entered into a revenue-sharing agreement with the unnamed company developing Portwatch. The parties involved with BDB intended to generate revenues by marketing and selling a similar app—called Metrowatch—to other government agencies. “Under the terms of this agreement, defendant Boyd would receive approximately 13.33 percent of all gross revenues generated by the sale of the Metrowatch application throughout the United States,” according to the indictment.
The revenue-sharing agreement was contingent upon Boyd’s assistance in securing the Portwatch contract for the unnamed company. Over the course of a year beginning in October 2011, Boyd took steps to benefit the unnamed company with respect to the Portwatch contract. The indictment alleges that his actions included hosting a private meeting with the unnamed company for the purpose of disclosing confidential information, meeting with Los Angeles officials that included the city attorney and the mayor, editing the scope of work for the Portwatch contract so that he could personally monitor the Portwatch app’s development, and urging the Port to expedite a press release to announce the implementation of the Portwatch app.
The indictment goes on to allege that Boyd, who was interviewed by special agents with the FBI last October, lied to the investigators when he denied having any financial interest in Metrowatch. The indictment alleges that Boyd falsely stated that BDB was created to sell body armor, and that he was unaware of the revenue-sharing agreement between the unnamed company and BDB. In relation to these alleged misrepresentations, Boyd faces three counts of making false statements.
Counts 8 through 16 of the indictment allege tax violations. Boyd is specifically charged with four counts of failing to file tax returns for the years 2008 through 2011 for his security business, At Close Range. He is also charged with five counts of tax evasion for the tax years 2007 through 2011 for failing to report income that was “substantially greater than the amount stated on the return,” according to the indictment.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
If he is convicted of all 16 counts in the indictment, Boyd would face a statutory maximum sentence of 124 years in federal prison.
Boyd is expected to surrender to federal authorities next week on a date to be determined.
The case against Boyd is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS—Criminal Investigation.