Crime - Sacto 911

Appellate ruling trims sentences in Sacramento Library corruption case

Janie Mae Rankins-Mayle, James Earl Mayle Sr., center, and Dennis Nilsson were convicted in a corruption scandal involving the the Sacramento Library Authority.
Janie Mae Rankins-Mayle, James Earl Mayle Sr., center, and Dennis Nilsson were convicted in a corruption scandal involving the the Sacramento Library Authority. Sacramento Bee file

A state appellate court has reversed parts of the prison sentences of three people convicted in a corruption scandal that first came to light almost nine years ago and eventually engulfed the Sacramento Library Authority.

Dennis Nilsson, the former library facilities superintendent, was involved in several kickback schemes that yielded him illegal personal profit on library maintenance work by outside contractors.

One of these schemes included James Earle Mayle Sr., who was also a library employee at the time, and his wife, Janie Mae Rankins-Mayle. The trio cheated the library authority out of more than $780,000.

Two Sacramento Superior Court juries found them guilty in December 2011, variously of grand theft, embezzlement, offering or receiving a bribe, and conflict of interest.

Nilsson was sentenced to 14 years and eight months in prison, Mayle to five years and four months, and Rankins-Mayle to six years.

At a sentencing hearing in January 2012, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Allen H. Sumner also added two years to the sentences of Mayle and Rankins-Mayle on an aggravated white collar crime enhancement. Sumner found that a grand theft count and a bribery count were related, allowing the sentencing boost.

But a three-justice panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal on Thursday struck down the enhancement imposed on Mayle, now 70, and Rankins-Mayle, now 67, ruling that because “the prosecution did not (charge) and prove that the grand theft and the bribery were related felonies, the trial court erred by imposing the … enhancement.”

The panel also shaved a count of grand theft off the jury’s guilty verdicts against Nilsson, now 69, because the law at the time he committed his crimes, which has since changed, permitted only one grand theft conviction for multiple thefts all done as part of “a single overarching scheme.”

The unanimous panel sent all three matters back to the trial court for resentencing. Acting Presiding Justice George Nicholson authored the 37-page opinion, with the concurrences of Associate Justices Louis R. Mauro and Andrea Lynn Hoch.

Starting in 1999, Nilsson assigned maintenance work to outside contractors and approved invoices for payment, which were paid from the library’s budget. Before 2006, the library did not solicit bids for maintenance.

Mayle was the supervisor of library security. Rankins-Mayle owned apartments for which she regularly hired contractors to do work. The couple owned All City Maintenance, which had a business license but not a contractor’s license.

Starting in May 2004, library contractors were instructed to send invoices to All City to be submitted to the library, even though the company neither arranged with the contractors to do the work nor supervised them.

All City then inflated the invoices submitted by contractors before billing the library. The inflation varied, but commonly was 100 percent or more. In 2005, All City became Hagginwood Business Services Inc.

The next year the library began soliciting bids for maintenance; Hagginwood was awarded the contract, and the fraudulent invoices continued to be paid and the kickbacks to Nilsson continued to flow.

A forensic accounting investigation revealed that the library paid more than $1.3 million to All City and Hagginwood from 2004 to 2007. In turn, those companies paid more than $562,500 to the outside contractors performing the services, a markup of more than 130 percent.

Denny Walsh: 916-321-1189