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Three times, Hammond agreed to settle lawsuits over bad debts, only to bounce the settlement checks.

One case involved his failure to pay $18,500 to a man whose liquor store he acquired while assembling land for his first publicly subsidized commercial development, a shopping center called Chesterfield Square that is anchored by a Home Depot store at Western and Slauson avenues in South Los Angeles.

The owner sued him in 2001. Hammond acknowledged the debt in 2002, paid part of it, and in 2003 settled the case out of court. He had a lawyer hand-deliver a check for $15,714. It was no good.

Joseph Kerendian, the lawyer for the store owner, said he was "completely surprised. I have never had a case where the defendant settles a case and the check bounces."

Kerendian, who has handled dozens of cases involving unpaid debts, said his client was still trying to collect.

City Funds Flow to Check-Bouncing Developer

Los Angeles Times

June 14, 2004

By: Ted Rohrlich and Ralph Frammolino