The defense in the perjury and voter fraud trial of Richard Alarcon called the former Los Angeles City Councilman's longtime scheduler as its main witness Monday to testify that Alarcon often spent time at his Panorama City home.
Alarcon and his wife have been accused of lying about where they lived so Alarcon could be elected to represent the 7th Council District, which he did until 2013. Prosecutors allege the San Fernando Valley lawmaker falsely claimed to live in his district in Panorama City but actually lived in Sun Valley. The City Charter requires that candidates reside in the district they seek to represent.
Nancy Hodges-Jimenez, who worked for Alarcon for more than 20 years, testified that she regularly dropped off City Council paperwork for Alarcon to read at his home in Panorama City. She also said she attended parties at that home at which Alarcon, his wife, Flora Montes de Oca Alarcon, and their infant daughter were present.
Hodges-Jimenez said under cross-examination that the parties at the Panorama City home were never inside but in the backyard. She said she had been to parties indoors at the Alarcons' Sun Valley home, including birthday parties for both Alarcon and his wife.
The Alarcons have said they were renovating the Panorama City home and thus weren't always there. They say they planned to return eventually, so it was their permanent residence.
In his opening statements last month, Alarcon's attorney, Richard Lasting, said the home repairs took longer than expected because Alarcon was doing the renovations himself and did not have a lot of spare time outside of his work as a councilman.
Hodges-Jimenez testified Monday that she had seen Alarcon putting tile in a bathroom and window blinds in the living room at the Panorama City home.
Together, the Alarcons face more than 20 felony counts stemming from allegedly lying about their residence in campaign, voter registration and Department of Motor Vehicles documents between 2006 and 2009. If convicted, Alarcon could face five years in state prison and his wife four.
The defense has focused on a piece of California election law that defines residence for voting purposes as a "domicile," a place where one plans to return after an absence and make a permanent residence. The prosecution has emphasized that domicile is a place where "habitation is fixed," saying the Alarcons did not spend enough time at the Panorama City home to be domiciled there.
A major piece of the prosecution's case, which rested Friday, was surveillance documents and photos of the Panorama City home in 2009 and 2010. A district investigator testified that he visited the home nearly 50 times and saw Alarcon there only once — on a day the police were called to arrest an intruder.
On Monday, jurors were shown examples of Alarcon's daily schedule as a councilman with events sometimes starting as early as 7 a.m. and not ending until 10 p.m. Alarcon's attorney also presented several weekend schedules during which Alarcon had events to attend for large parts of the day.
Alarcon's cousin Steven Lopez took the stand Monday to contradict a key prosecution witness.
In one of the most compelling moments in the trial, Carolyn Jackson, who worked with city lawmakers as a representative of the city Department of Transportation before retiring in 2010, testified she met with Alarcon in May 2007, two months after he was elected.
She said that when she congratulated him, Alarcon told her: "You know, I wasn't even living in the district when I was elected." Jackson said he added: "I am now, of course."
When Jackson testified, the defense had tried to show that her memory was faulty because she couldn't correctly recall other parts of their conversation. Lopez testified that Alarcon went to a middle school different from the one Jackson had recalled him saying he did that day in 2007.