Tax Dollars for Concerts

Updated: May 22, 2018

The former city manager of Fowler, in Fresno County, has been charged with using city funds to purchase tickets to see Garth Brooks, Paul McCartney and Blake Shelton in concert, and to buy airline tickets and other items for his personal use.

A criminal complaint filed in Fresno County Superior Court alleges that David Lawrence Elias used city-issued credit cards in 2015 and 2016 to spend thousands of dollars on dozens of purchases that weren’t for city business.

Mr. Elias pleaded not guilty to 13 felony counts of misappropriation of public money by a public officer. If convicted, he faces up to 16 years in prison.

Mr. Elias retired from the city of Fowler in January after 29 years of service, and was working as the city manager of Selma when he was arrested November 15. In 2014, he made $161,290 in annual salary and benefits.

The criminal complaint says Mr. Elias misused public money to buy event tickets, Starbucks gift cards and merchandise, and meals, lodging and merchandise during trips to San Francisco. He also spent $1,746 at a tire store, the complaint says.

Mr. Elias’ defense attorney said the city manager job required his client to meet and entertain people who want to bring businesses and jobs to the city, and “he had a lot of leeway in what he was allowed to do.” (Source: The Fresno Bee, November 30.)

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