Terrigno Takes Stand, Admits Judgment Errors

Former West Hollywood Mayor Valerie Terrigno acknowledged Thursday that she committed "errors in judgment" in handling a financial crisis that faced a now-defunct community center she headed between 1982 and 1984 but insisted that she did not embezzle any federal monies from that agency.

She also conceded that she inadvertently overpaid herself as executive director of the Crossroads Counseling Service in Hollywood several times and said her failure to rectify the situation was an "oversight" on her part.

Terrigno, 32, took the witness stand in her Los Angeles federal trial to deny allegations that she used more than $9,000 intended for the poor and homeless--administered by the agency--for herself and her friends. She was indicted Oct. 23 on 14 counts alleging misuse of nearly $11,000, but two of the charges were subsequently dropped.

Defense attorney Howard Weitzman asked her several times during her more than four hours of testimony if she ever intended to "steal, convert or embezzle" money that federal investigators say went to pay for her clothes, rent, food and auto repairs.

"No, I did not," Terrigno replied each time.

In the case of a $510 check issued to Jay Jay Vega by Terrigno in May, 1984, the defendant denied assertions by Assistant U.S. Atty. Richard M. Callahan that the $310 returned to her was for her own use. Vega kept the remaining $200.

The case is expected to go the jury today.

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