Countywide : D.A. Won't Charge GOP's Poll Guards

Deputy Dist. Atty. Wallace J. Wade said Monday that prosecutors will not file charges against the 20 individual security guards who were stationed at Santa Ana polling places by the Republican Party on Election Day last year.

Wade said the criminal investigation of the Nov. 8 incident, which caused Democrats to charge that the guards were hired to intimidate Latino voters, has not revealed any criminal intent on the part of the hired guards. He said, however, that the probe is continuing into other aspects of the case.

Wade's comments followed a news conference Monday by Democratic Latino leaders who complained that the statute of limitations for some misdemeanor charges will expire today with no action so far from the district attorney.

Democrat Rueben Martinez charged that Dist. Atty. Cecil Hicks, a Republican, is stalling the investigation intentionally to protect his party.

"This investigation should have been wrapped up within two weeks," Martinez said. "This appears to be an intentional strategy by the district attorney's office to compromise the criminal investigation, and it appears they are succeeding."

Martinez said he also wrote a letter to state Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp asking for a review of the district attorney's investigation of the guards hired in the 72nd Assembly District race, which was narrowly won by Republican Curt Pringle of Garden Grove.

Republican Party officials have said the guards were hired only to monitor the voting for fraud. They said there were rumors that Democrats might bus in illegal voters to tip the election to Democrat Christian (Rick) Thierbach.

"I am specifically requesting that your office assume the investigation of this matter to assure that it is not decided by partisan political considerations," Martinez wrote to the attorney general's office.

But Greg Haskin, executive director of the Orange County Republican Party, said Monday that Van de Kamp's involvement in the investigation would not resolve questions of partisanship since he is running in the Democratic primary for governor.

"If there is any partisan law enforcement agency in the state of California, it's our friendly Democratic candidate for governor, the attorney general," he said.

Wade said he welcomed the attorney general's involvement in the case, noting that the U.S. attorney's office and the FBI already are participating in the investigation.

He also said the probe is continuing, although he would not discuss which individuals are being investigated or the crimes being considered.

Wade also said that the district attorney's investigation had been nearing a close until new information was discovered recently.

Democratic leaders are planning to hold a candlelight vigil outside Assemblyman Pringle's Garden Grove office to mark the case on Wednesday night, the one-year anniversary of the election.

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