Executive Life Case About to Go to Trial

In a previous turn as Insurance Commissioner 13 years ago, John Garamendi said he couldn't think of "a better gift for policyholders" than his sale of Executive Life Insurance Co. to a group of French investors. Now he is singing a different tune, pushing a lawsuit that accuses French companies Credit Lyonnais and MAAF Vie of fraud and conspiracy. After six years of pretrial maneuvering, jury selection in the case is set to begin Wednesday in a federal courtroom in L.A., the Los Angeles Times reported.

KB Home CEO Gets 25 Percent Raise
Coming off the best year in its history, L.A.-based homebuilder KB Home rewarded Chief Executive Bruce Karatz with $20 million in salary and bonuses in 2004, a 25 percent raise from 2003, the Los Angeles Times reported. In an SEC filing, KB Home said Karatz received a $14-million restricted stock award for 2004, up from $10 million the previous year. His $1 million annual base salary and $5 million cash bonus were unchanged from 2003.

Debate Does Well on Local TV, Even During Sweeps
Last week's televised debate among the city's top five mayoral candidates drew a larger-than-expected audience for KCAL (Channel 9), the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. More than 185,000 people watched last Monday's 90-minute exchange between Mayor James Hahn and his top four challengers, councilmen Bernard Parks and Antonio Villaraigosa, former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg and state Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-Van Nuys.

Hahn: The Inside Story
Questions about corruption swirling around Mayor James Hahn have their origins in the decisions he made at the start of his administration to put key fund-raisers in critical roles that would aid his future efforts to raise campaign cash, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. Among the decisions that observers point to is naming his relatively inexperienced 2001 campaign fundraiser, Troy Edwards, to oversee the three proprietary departments harbor, airports and water and power that employ thousands and award hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts every year.

Report May Lift Clouds Over Boeing
A Pentagon task force probing defense contracts that may have favored Boeing Co. has concluded that there were some "anomalies" but won't call for a criminal investigation, the Los Angeles Times reporter, citing government sources. Two separate federal criminal investigations into Boeing in Virginia and Los Angeles are winding down and no additional indictments are expected, government and industry sources said.

Water Board Member Due for Sentencing in Fraud Case
With influential friends asking for leniency but prosecutors saying he should serve more than four years behind bars, West Basin Municipal Water District board member R. Keith McDonald faces sentencing Monday, the Daily Breeze reported. McDonald was convicted last year on four federal mail fraud counts, two counts of bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit extortion and three money-laundering counts in a string of political corruption schemes.

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