City Prosecutor Wants to Use Federal Grant to Hire Business Crimes Investigator, Assistant

Published : Monday, October 29, 2018 | 4:36 AM

Pasadena City Attorney/City Prosecutor Michele Beal Bagneris

The office of Pasadena’s City Attorney/City Prosecutor Michele Beal Bagneris is requesting the City Council to authorize the City Manager to enter into an agreement with the California Department of Justice that would pave the way for the City to receive a grant of $108,347 from the Department that is earmarked for use prosecuting cases of identity theft and intellectual property theft in Pasadena.

The grant was announced in September and is good for one year so the City could hire support staff that will help the City Attorney and prosecutors in handling these cases.

An Agenda Report prepared by the City Attorney for Monday’s City Council meeting showed the City Attorney is also recommending that the operating budget for the office for fiscal year 2019 be amended to recognize and appropriate the State of

California Department of Justice Privacy and Piracy grant funds.

The office is also seeking authorization to increase their personnel allocation by 1.5 FTE limited-term, grant-funded positions – a Prosecution Assistant, who will be paid a total salary of $69,668, and an Investigator who will be paid a total of $38,679.

In the report, Bagneris said Pasadena is home to numerous retail and commercial businesses whose total profits exceed $1 billion and generate tax revenues to the City totaling more than $40 million.

“With these businesses operating within the City, there is associated crime that accompanies these successful businesses,” Bagneris wrote. “Intellectual Property Theft as well as Identity Theft are on the rise in Southern California and Pasadena has not been excluded from that rise. The City Prosecutor’s Office currently prosecutes a significant number of these theft related cases and expects more in the future due to the associated increase in the economic outlook for the country, state, county and city.”

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S. In 2017, Javelin Strategy, a research-based firm that advises clients in the financial industry, said the number of identity theft victims in the U.S. rose to 16.7 million. The cost of all of that lost data amounted to nearly $17 billion.

Intellectual property theft – which involves stolen trade secrets, counterfeit goods, and pirated software – directly costs the U.S. economy $225 to $600 billion annually, or one to three percent of the gross domestic product, in 2016, according to the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property. In its February 2017 update, the IP Commission said China accounted for 87 percent of counterfeit goods seized coming to the United States.

In 2016, Customs and Border Patrol reported that $617 million, or 45 percent, of seized goods were sourced to China and $600 million, 43 percent, were sourced to Hong Kong.

In California and Pasadena, some of the specific economic crimes being prosecuted include the use of a code-grabbing device, public housing fraud, theft of title information, trade secrets theft, unauthorized access to computers or computer data, fraudulent use of information on payment cards, false impersonation, identity theft and use of identifying information, the Agenda Report from the City Attorney showed.


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