Water Official Sentenced to 180 days in Jail
The treasurer of the West Basin Municipal Water District pleaded guilty today to charges that he
embezzled nearly $20,000 from the agency to pay for tennis and dance lessons for his children and
repairs on his boat, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Ronald Craig Smith, 55, pleaded guilty to one count of conflict of interest before Los Angeles County
Superior Court Judge Thomas Sokolov. He was immediately sentenced to 180 days in county jail and
placed on probation for five years.
As part of a negotiated plea, Smith submitted his resignation today to the West Basin Municipal Water
District, and he turned over a $10,000 check to the district as a partial repayment of the stolen funds.
He was ordered to pay $7,765 in remaining restitution to the water district.
Deputy District Attorney Alison M. Estrada with the Public Integrity Division prosecuted the case.
Arraignment for Smith’s two co-defendants, Robert Earl Katherman Jr. (dob 6/22/46) and his wife,
Marilyn Katherman (dob 11/11/48), was postponed to Oct. 1 in the same courtroom in case YA090605.
Smith admitted orchestrating a scheme to funnel money from the West Basin board to a nonprofit
agency run by the Kathermans. Shortly after receiving the water basin’s donations, the agency began
writing checks on behalf of Smith and his family that covered school tuition for his son and two
daughters along with a $3,500 check that went to repair Smith’s boat.