May 20, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Gay Ex-Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet charged with corruption

BY KAREN OCAMB | The long Palm Spring sun seems to be setting on Steve Pougnet, the one-time fair-haired gay politico who served two terms as mayor and vigorously but unsuccessfully ran for Congress against Mary Bono in 2010. On Thursday, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint alleging that Pougnet took $375,000 in bribes from two real estate developers in exchange for favorable votes for the two years between September 2012 and September 2014. 

Pougnet, 53, is being charged with nine counts of receiving bribes, eight counts of conflict of interest as a public official and three counts of perjury, according to extensive reporting by the Desert Sun.  District Attorney Mike Hestrin also said that developers John Wessman and Richard Meaney were each charged with nine counts of offering a bribe and all three are charged with conspiracy to commit bribery. Pougnet faces a possible maximum sentence of 19 years in state prison if convicted on all charges. If they are convicted, Meaney, 51, and Wessman, 78, could each face a potential 12 years in state prison. 

“Richard Meaney and John Wessman were working together to bribe the mayor, so the money was obviously traveling from the developers to the mayor,” Hestrin told reporters. “This is a large amount of money that was paid to the mayor for his influence on the City Council.”

The scheme was complicated, but, Hestrin said, “It’s pretty brazen and pretty obvious once you scratch the surface.” The corruption charges send the message that “everybody deserves fair, open and honest government.”

The initial investigation was prompted by a Desert Sun story looking at ties between Pougnet and Meaney. That lead to a shocking Sept. 1, 2015 raid on City Hall by FBI, IRS and DA agents, who also raided Pougnet’s Palm Springs house. Pougnet asked the public not to rush to judgment and let the investigation run its course. He left office shortly after the Palm Springs Pride parade that year.

Pougnet is currently living in Colorado with his husband and two children but intends to appear in Riverside court next week, according to his attorney who issued this statement on Thursday: 

“Steve Pougnet is very proud of his service as Mayor of Palm Springs. He always worked with the best of Palm Springs in trying to rebuild the downtown.  He made all the financial disclosures required of him. In the final analysis, although no one likes being charged with a crime he welcomes the opportunity to demonstrate that he did nothing wrong.”

Related Posts

Mayor Bass Orders Increased Police Presence on LA Metro After Surge in Violence

May 17, 2024

May 17, 2024

A Shocking Murder Was Committed on a Metro Bus After Announcement Mayor Karen Bass has directed an increase in law...

Inaugural Design Miami.LA Fair Opens in Holmby Hills

May 17, 2024

May 17, 2024

Exclusive Access and Dynamic Talks From May 16-20 The inaugural edition of Design Miami.LA opened yesterday, running until May 20,...

(Video) Design Miami LA Is Now Open in Holmby Hills

May 17, 2024

May 17, 2024

Sainte Marguerite en Provence Is the exclusive rosé sponsor. Welcome to the Greenhouse. @centurycitywestwoodnews Design Miami LA Is Now Open...

Shock-A-Go-Go Film Festival Returns to Lumiere Cinema in Beverly Hills

May 17, 2024

May 17, 2024

A Weekend of Horror, and Cult Classics With Exclusive Q&A Sessions The Shock-A-Go-Go Film Festival is set to return to...

Devastating Fire Closes Historic Westwood Restaurant, Causing Serious Damage

May 16, 2024

May 16, 2024

Roozbeh Farahanipour Launches GoFundMe to Restore Cultural Tribute The Persian Gulf Restaurant and Museum in Westwood has sustained serious damage...

Culver City Police Seek Help in Identifying Elderly Woman Found Near Hospital

May 16, 2024

May 16, 2024

Urgent Assistance Needed to Locate Family of Disoriented Woman Culver City Police are urgently seeking the public’s assistance in identifying...

Beverly Hills Art Show Returns for Spring Weekend Extravaganza

May 16, 2024

May 16, 2024

Join the Celebration of Art in Beverly Gardens Park Art aficionados and families are invited to join the City of...

UAW 4811 Votes Overwhelmingly to Authorize Strike Against University of California System

May 16, 2024

May 16, 2024

Union Responds to Alleged Unfair Labor Practices with Strike Authorization Vote United Auto Workers 4811, the International Union, United Automobile,...

Metro Offers Free Rides to Billie Eilish’s Hit Me Hard and Soft Listening Party

May 15, 2024

May 15, 2024

Fans Provided Convenient Transportation Options to Kia Forum Venue With excitement building for Billie Eilish’s much-anticipated Hit Me Hard and...

Palmer Candy Company Recalls “White Coated Confectionary Items” Over Salmonella Concerns

May 15, 2024

May 15, 2024

Products Distributed in California Stores Pose Potential Health Risk Palmer Candy Company has issued a voluntary recall of its “White...

(Video) Hang-Ten Therapeutics Uses Sand, Ocean and Surfboards as a Source of Empowerment

May 15, 2024

May 15, 2024

More Information at hang-tentherapuetics.com @smmirrornews Surf therapy is a source of empowerment #therapy #surfing #losangeles #fyp #santamonica ♬ original sound...

FBI and DHS Warn of Potential Threats to LGBTQIA+ Events in June

May 14, 2024

May 14, 2024

Foreign Terrorist Organizations Could Target Pride Celebrations The FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are alerting the public to...

Former Riverside Resident to Plead Guilty to Hate Crimes Against Jewish Men

May 14, 2024

May 14, 2024

Man Agrees to Face Justice for Pico-Robertson Area Shooting A former Riverside resident who shot and wounded two Jewish men...

Teenage Students Fall Ill After Ingesting Cannabis Edibles on Field Trip

May 14, 2024

May 14, 2024

Incident Occurs at La Brea Tar Pits; Students Transported to Hospitals Eight teenage students fell ill during a field trip...