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SANTA ANA : Montejano Reveals Plans to Leave State

Attorney Rodolfo Montejano, whose political lobbying at City Hall is reportedly the focus of an Orange County grand jury investigation, said Monday that he is resigning from the board of an organization that he founded and plans to move to Indiana next year.

In an Oct. 2 letter to directors of the Santiago Club, a locally prominent nonprofit business league, Montejano wrote that he and his family “have decided to live in a non-urban environment away from crime, drugs, traffic, overcrowding, pollution and congestion, which now dominate our city.”

A lifelong resident of Santa Ana, Montejano, who has diabetes, also cited health problems.

Montejano, 52, said his decision to leave the state has nothing to do with the grand jury inquiry.

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"(The investigation) is insignificant; it’s irrelevant to the move,” he said.

Santa Ana City Councilman John Acosta, a close friend of Montejano, noted that the lawyer bought property in Indiana more than two years ago. Acosta said he believes that the grand jury inquiry is unwarranted and speculated that “maybe the investigation pushed the move along. He was probably tired of it. Maybe this is what it takes for him to leave.”

In 1986, Montejano co-founded the Santiago Club, which has 125 members, who pay $300 in annual dues. The organization sponsors an annual Cinco de Mayo celebration and the Sept. 16 Mexican Independence Day celebration at Centennial Regional Park. The club also operates the extremely popular swap meet at Rancho Santiago College on weekends.

Montejano, a college trustee for more than 19 years, said he will leave that post once he completes his moving plans. In the Sept. 26 college board meeting, Montejano was asked by two faculty members to step down because of the reported investigation.

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“When I cease to be a legal resident, I will vacate the seat,” Montejano said.

College trustee Shirley Ralston said Montejano had often talked about his property in Indiana. But she said she was surprised at the news of his upcoming move. Ralston said she does not believe that Montejano is leaving because of the investigation, which she characterized as “all election-year rhetoric.”

Montejano said that he and his brother-in-law had purchased a 15-acre plot of land in Indiana and that he plans to move next year after he builds a house on the property.

Montejano, who has his own law firm in Santa Ana, said he does not know whether he will practice law in Indiana.

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“I’m not committed to it,” he said. “I’ve got various options. I want to reduce my stress level.”

Montejano said he has been telling his clients that he plans to leave his practice.

Last month, City Council members Ron May, Miguel A. Pulido Jr. and Richards L. Norton and City Manager David N. Ream appeared before the grand jury, which is reportedly investigating allegations that Montejano tried to improperly pressure Pulido.


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