Former Orange County Supervisor Ralph A. Diedrich, who went to prison on bribery and conspiracy charges, has died in San Diego at age 64.
A wealthy man who prospered in construction and property development, Diedrich was once considered to be the most powerful politician in Orange County. Witnesses said that he tried to cement his grasp on power by helping his cronies reach office.
Known by the nickname "Super D," he ran unopposed for reelection to a second term as Orange County supervisor in 1976. But he left office in disgrace three years later, sentenced to a one- to 14-year prison term and a $5,000 fine on charges of bribery and conspiracy. He served just under two years in prison.
Basis of Conviction
Diedrich was convicted of requesting a bribe from officials of Anaheim Hills, Inc., which wanted to develop 2,200 acres that were zoned for agricultural use. He later voted with the 3-2 majority that removed the acreage from the preserve in 1974.
He was also convicted of accepting about $75,000 from the Anaheim Hills firm through Leroy Rose, his former campaign chairman, who was also convicted on related charges.
After several appeals, Diedrich began serving his term in 1982. His release was delayed because of charges that he gambled and engaged in racketeering behind bars.
He was reported to have held a hidden interest in Orange County Public Relations, a firm that was said to be a clearinghouse for incumbent county supervisors' fund-raising efforts.
The Internal Revenue Service presented him with a $4.9-million tax bill in 1981, charging that he maintained several multimillion-dollar bank accounts and failed to report millions of dollars in income. Included in that income was the bribe money, the IRS said.
After his release from prison, Diedrich worked as a project manager for a firm that builds and manages apartments.
Services were set for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the El Camino Chapel, 5600 Carroll Canyon Road, San Diego, with visitation from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Cremation is planned.
A complete obituary will appear in Monday's editions.
Ralph A. Diedrich