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Judge Grills Ludlow, Schedules Sentencing

From a Times Staff Writer

Before accepting former Los Angeles City Councilman Martin Ludlow’s guilty plea Tuesday for conspiracy to embezzle union funds, a federal judge delivered a lengthy grilling and warned he is not bound by a bargain Ludlow worked out with prosecutors in hopes of avoiding prison time.

U.S. District Judge Manuel Real set sentencing for June 5. Although federal prosecutors agreed not to seek time behind bars for the former councilman, Real warned Ludlow that he retains the authority to sentence him to prison.

“Do you understand that the plea agreement does not bind me whatsoever?” the judge asked Ludlow, who said he understood.

Real required Ludlow to admit repeatedly he knew he was breaking federal law when he conspired to get Service Employees International Union Local 99 to pay for workers in his 2003 campaign and then tried to cover it up.

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“Did you ... agree to use union funds ... in a campaign for City Council in 2003?” the judge asked.

“Yes, your honor, I did,” Ludlow responded.

“Did you know at that time you were violating federal law?” the judge asked.

“Yes, your honor, I did,” Ludlow responded.

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Ludlow said outside of court Tuesday he continues to cooperate with investigators in the case, which also involves several union leaders.


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