In the perjury and voter fraud trial of former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon, state Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) testified for the prosecution Tuesday that he knew of plans to turn Alarcon's Panorama City home into a condominium complex.
Alarcon and his wife have been accused of lying about where they lived so he could run to represent the Council's 7th District. The prosecution argues Alarcon actually lived in Sun Valley outside the 7th district, and falsely claimed to live in Panorama City. Alarcon has said he was remodeling the Panorama City house and considered it his permanent residence.
Bocanegra, who worked for Alarcon in 2007, testified that he met with land use consultant Pauline Amond two or three times in 2007 to discuss rezoning the Alarcons' Panorama City home so it could be developed into a condominium complex.
Amond also testified Tuesday, and said she had been hired by Alarcon's wife, Flores Montes de Oca Alarcon, who owns the property.
Amond said she helped draft a zoning change request so the home could become a nine-unit complex. The prosecutor also showed the jury an architect's blueprint of a condominium complex for that site.
Alarcon lawyer Richard Lasting pointed out that the zoning change Amond referred to hadn't moved forward, and had never even been signed by the Alarcons.
Montes de Oca Alarcon's attorney Mark Overland made a similar argument, indicating that a cost analysis was never done for the project.
The testimony Tuesday is the first on development plans for the Panorama City home. Since the trial began last month, most witnesses have been neighbors of both the Alarcon homes, as well as people who work at utility companies that serviced the homes. Former Councilwoman Wendy Greuel is expected to testify Tuesday afternoon.
Together, the Alarcons face 22 felony counts in connection with allegedly lying in campaign, voter registration and Department of Motor Vehicles documents between 2006 and 2009.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Michele Gilmer has described Alarcon, 60, as a "career politician" who lied about where he lived so he could hold another office. She said Alarcon won a seat in the state Assembly in 2006, and immediately decided to run for a council seat left vacant by the same election.
Gilmer used Bocanegra to bolster that argument Tuesday, asking him about pension and retirement benefits for elected officials. Bocanegra said that while members of the Assembly do not get pension or other retirement benefits, L.A. Council members do.
The trial is expected to conclude by the end of next week.
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