Wendy Greuel could be called to testify in the perjury and voter fraud case against her former Los Angeles City Council colleague, Richard Alarcon, a prosecutor said in opening statements Thursday.
Alarcon and his wife, Flora Montes de Oca Alarcon, are accused of falsely claiming to live in L.A.'s 7th District so he could run to represent the area on the City Council -- which he did until he was termed out of office last year. Together, the Alarcons face more than 20 felony counts.
Deputy Dist. Atty Michele Gilmer said that although Alarcon won a seat in the California State Assembly in November 2006, he was a "career politician" and immediately wanted to run for a city council seat that was left vacant by the same election.
"The only problem is," Gilmer told the jury, "he had to live in the district."
Gilmer said Alarcon had once asked Greuel -- when she represented a bordering council district -- to agree to shift her District 2 boundaries so a house his wife owned in Sun Valley would be in District 7. Greuel declined.
The main issue in the case is whether a different home owned by Montes de Oca Alarcon in Panorama City in the 7th District was the couple's actual permanent residence between 2006 and 2009.
Gilmer said that Alarcon registered to vote three days after the November election and listed his home address as 14451 Nordhoff St. in Panorama City.
Gilmer contended that Alarcon actually lived in the Sun Valley home in the 2nd District.
"Nordhoff was supposed to be a trick to the eyes, an illusion," Gilmer said. "It's a real house, but they weren't living there."
Under the Los Angeles city charter, candidates running for a seat on the city council must reside in the district they seek to represent. Gilmer said that meant that Alarcon's permanent residence between 2006 and 2009 should have been in the 7th District.
Alarcon's attorney, Richard Lasting, said that the Nordhoff home was Alarcon's permanent residence and that he wasn't always there because he was doing an "extensive renovation project" on the home in anticipation of his daughter's birth in 2008.
"The house needed some work," Lasting said.
Lasting said that Alarcon always planned to return to the Nordhoff home once the work was completed. He said the project took many years because Alarcon didn't hire a contractor and was doing the repairs himself, and therefore didn't have much time outside his work as a councilman.
Lasting said that during the trial he would show multiple receipts proving that Alarcon and his wife were fixing up the house and preparing to move back in in 2009, when they found an intruder had moved into the home. Therefore, they could not move back in immediately.
Gilmer also mentioned the intruder, but as evidence that the Alarcons weren't living in the home. She also said that she would go over utility bills for water and gas that showed usage levels too low for people to be living in the house.
Alarcon and his wife have denied any wrongdoing. Montes de Oca Alarcon's charges are related to lying on voter and state Department of Motor Vehicle documents.
Mark Overland, Montes de Oca Alarcon's attorney, said he expected the trial to last three to four weeks.
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