The Orange County district attorney’s office is investigating whether Sheriff Brad Gates committed perjury on a voter registration affidavit as alleged by Bobby D. Youngblood, one of Gates’ opponents in the June primary, Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Maurice Evans said Tuesday.
The district attorney’s office is reviewing a complaint made by Youngblood that claims Gates listed a San Clemente residence he did not live in at the time he registered to vote, Evans said.
However, Gates denied the accusation, saying in a telephone interview that delays in an earlier real estate transaction may have caused some confusion over his legal residence.
In a separate civil lawsuit filed last week in Superior Court, Youngblood, a Municipal Court judge on a leave of absence while campaigning for sheriff, claimed that Gates on March 4 signed a voter’s registration affidavit, under penalty of perjury, listing a residence at 2818 La Ventana in San Clemente. Subsequently, Gates filed nomination documents listing a residence at 30792 Steeplechase Drive in San Juan Capistrano.
Youngblood said, based on information he received from a private investigator, neither Gates nor his wife, Diana, lived at either residence.
As a result, the candidate is seeking a court order to have Gates’ name deleted from the voters’ rolls, making him ineligible to run for sheriff in the June 3 primary. A court hearing on the suit is scheduled May 8.
Gates has denied that he did anything wrong. He explained that he and his wife were in the process of selling their San Juan Capistrano home, which was scheduled to close escrow Feb. 1, and then planned to move into the San Clemente home.
“But the buyer’s bank and other business matters kept delaying it,” Gates said. “When I pulled my (voter’s affidavit) on Feb. 10, my attorney called (Registrar Al) Olson and asked what I should do,” he said.
The advice they received, Gates said, was to register to vote at the home where he was then living, 30792 Steeplechase Drive in San Juan Capistrano. If he moved during the nomination filing period, officials told him that he could return to the registrar’s office and refile using the new San Clemente address, Gates said.
On March 1, escrow closed on the Steeplechase property and Gates said he and his wife took title to the home at 2818 La Ventana in San Clemente. When he returned to the registrar’s office, officials advised him to file papers with the new address. However, further delays such as painting and repairs prevented him from actually moving into the residence for several weeks, he said.
Gates, the county’s sheriff-coroner since January, 1975, said he has lived in Orange County most of his life. He added that he has lived at the Steeplechase address since 1977.
Youngblood is hoping his lawsuit will have the same result as a similar legal action filed against former Orange County Municipal Judge Joanne Harrold.
Harrold lost her judgeship to Dan Dutcher in November, 1982 after Dutcher successfully challenged Harrold’s Riverside residency, a Youngblood campaign supporter said.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Evans disclosed the Gates investigation after denying that the district attorney’s office is unfairly prosecuting a former Buena Park council candidate accused of lying about his address in campaign documents.
The former candidate, Steve A. Grasha, 27, said Tuesday that the district attorney’s office “unfairly” singled him out for prosecution while ignoring Gates’ identical situation.
Grasha said he was arrested five days before the Nov. 5, 1985, council election, after he filed candidate documents listing a Buena Park address. He explained that he intended to move into the apartment but couldn’t after the original tenants decided not to move.
However, charges were filed against Grasha after district attorney investigators were unable to confirm his story, according to sources in the district attorney’s office.
Grasha was recently ordered to stand trial on four counts of perjury and one count of filing false nomination papers.