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California Sen. Rod Wright convicted of perjury, voter fraud

ElectionsJustice SystemCrime, Law and JusticePoliticsRoderick Wright

A Los Angeles jury on Tuesday convicted state Sen. Roderick D. Wright on all eight counts in his perjury and voter fraud trial.

The Inglewood Democrat was indicted by a Los Angeles County grand jury in September 2010. He had pleaded not guilty and said he thought he had been following the law in 2007 when he took steps to run for the seat he has held since late 2008.

In a trial that began Jan. 8, prosecutors accused Wright of faking a move to a rental property he owned in Inglewood so he could run in what was then the 25th Senate District.

They accused him of lying on voter registration and candidacy documents and of casting ballots in five elections he was not entitled to vote in from the Inglewood address. 

Prosecutors said Wright actually lived in a more spacious single-family home in upscale Baldwin Hills. He bought the house in 2000, but it was in another district.

Wright, 61, said he bought the Baldwin Hills home in part to use its top floor as an office and never intended it as his primary residence.   

He said he believed he was following the law when he registered to vote and did other things to make the Inglewood property his legal residence. He arranged to have a "dwelling place" in a house at the back of the apartment building with his common-law stepmother and longtime tenant, Wanda Sanders.   

He moved in some clothing and personal items, according to trial evidence and testimony. Wright said he thought he was on solid legal ground and never intended to deceive voters.

His defense attorney, Winston Kevin McKesson, told jurors the law was murky and called his client and friend "a compassionate man" and a "dedicated public servant."  He accused the district attorney's public integrity division of lying and conducting a "sloppy" investigation.

The nine-woman, three-man jury began its deliberations Friday.

Wright, who has been active in politics since his college days, was an aide to various elected officials and worked on several campaigns before being elected to the California Assembly in 1996. He left in 2002 due to term limits and worked as a consultant until he ran for the Senate seat.

[Updated 11:20 a.m. PST Jan. 28: Sentencing was set for March 12.

Wright made no comment after the verdict was read, but his attorney said Wright would appeal.]

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