By Aaron Blevins, 10/04/2012
A Los Angeles judge has ruled that there is enough probable cause to put Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon, 7th District, and his wife on trial for fraud and perjury charges.
The two are scheduled to return to court on Oct. 18 for the charges, which are related to an investigation that the councilman was allegedly living at a residence outside his district. Alarcon faces one felony count of filing a false declaration of candidacy, seven counts of voter fraud and nine felony counts of perjury. His wife, Flora, has been charged with perjury for falsifying a provisional voting ballot.
Prosecutors allege that Alarcon and his wife illegally claimed to have lived at 14451 Nordhoff St. in Panorama City during his run for city council in 2007 and his bid for re-election in 2009. During the summer of 2007, Alarcon unsuccessfully tried to have the 7th District boundaries redrawn to include his wife’s Sun Valley home, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
In using the Nordhoff Street address, he allegedly falsified his voter registration form, declaration of intent to receive campaign contributions, declaration of candidacy and an application for a California driver’s license. Alarcon has also been charged for fraudulently voting in an election.
The 15-month investigation began after the district attorney’s Public Integrity Division received a written complaint that the councilman was living outside his district. Alarcon and his wife were indicted and arrested in August 2010.
However, a judge dismissed the indictment, ruling that prosecutors failed to follow proper procedures when submitting evidence from the couple’s attorneys to the grand jury. Prosecutors filed perjury and voter fraud charges against the two in May.
“Judge Kathleen Kennedy’s decision … to dismiss the Alarcon case is inexplicable. …The grand jury transcripts clearly show that our prosecutors did indeed present evidence submitted by the councilman and his wife. The grand jury chose not to hear it, as is their right,” District Attorney Steve Cooley said in a statement. “We will vigorously prosecute this case.”
A trial date will likely be set after the Oct. 18 court appearance, according to information supplied by the district attorney’s office. While representatives could not speak to the maximum jail time Alarcon is facing, he did not have a prior criminal record and could be looking at probation and restitution. He is currently running for the State Assembly’s 39th District against educator Raul Bocanegra in the November election. If convicted and elected, he would have to resign and would be barred from holding any elected office for life.
Alarcon was first elected to the 7th District office in 1993, then served as a state senator from 1998 to 2006. After voters approved a measure that altered term limits, he again ran for city council.
Attorneys for the Alarcons did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.