Downey : Santangelo Trial Begins

Jury selection began Tuesday in the conflict-of-interest trial of Downey Councilman James S. Santangelo in Norwalk Superior Court.

The trial, which was moved from Downey Municipal Court for space considerations, is expected to last about two weeks, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Herbert Lapin, the prosecutor in the case.

Santangelo is charged with misdemeanor conflict of interest in connection with his 1984 vote to expand Downey's redevelopment zone along Firestone Boulevard.

Santangelo owned property in the expanded redevelopment area and in the city's original district. (Santangelo was not on the council when the original district was formed in 1978.)

The 386-acre expansion was invalidated in 1985 by a Superior Court judge, who found that Santangelo had a conflict of interest when he cast the deciding vote. The California 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld that decision last month.

If convicted, Santangelo faces up to six months in jail, a $10,000 fine and could be barred from holding public office for four years.

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