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D.A. probes whether L.A. Councilman Alarcon lives in his district

The Los Angeles County district attorney has opened an investigation to determine whether L.A. Councilman Richard Alarcon illegally claimed a Panorama City house as his residence, prosecutors said Thursday.

Investigators with the Public Integrity Division served a search warrant earlier this week at a house on Nordhoff Street where Alarcon is registered to vote. The house is owned by Alarcon’s wife, Flora Montes de Oca, and is within his 7th Council District in the northeast San Fernando Valley.

Another warrant was served at a second house owned by the councilman’s wife on Sheldon Street in the adjacent neighborhood of Sun Valley. That house is in the 2nd Council District, represented by newly elected Councilman Paul Krekorian.

David Demerjian, head deputy of the Public Integrity Division, said his office had received a complaint that Alarcon was living in a residence outside his district.

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A politician who registers to vote at a place that is not his residence can be charged with a felony, Demerjian said. The City Charter also requires candidates running for the council to live in the district they hope to represent.

The warrants, which typically explain why investigators believe a search is justified, are under court seal.

Alarcon, 56, told The Times on Thursday that he planned to “make it very clear” to investigators that he resides in the house on Nordhoff in Panorama City. He also said he lives there with his wife, while Montes de Oca’s son lives in the house on Sheldon in Sun Valley.

“We want to focus on cooperating with their questions, and I’m confident that when we’ve provided the responses to their questions that it will be seen as a very simple misunderstanding,” the councilman said.

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On Thursday afternoon, no one answered the door at the house on Nordhoff, a tract home built in 1950..

Three neighbors, an employee at the school next door and a man who has been living in a motor home next to Alarcon’s house said they had not seen anyone living in the home recently.

Steve Folden, who lives across the street and said he is the neighborhood watch block captain, said he had noticed no one living in the house for at least three years. Occasionally, he said, he sees workers mowing the lawn. He said he had seen Alarcon at the home “once in a blue moon” until this week.

“It’s been vacant for a long time,” Folden said.

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In the summer of 2007, The Times reported that after Alarcon was elected that spring, he asked then-2nd District Councilwoman Wendy Greuel to support an attempt to redraw boundaries so his wife’s Sun Valley home would be moved into his 7th District. Greuel represented the 2nd District until she was elected city controller last March.

Greuel said Thursday that his proposed change -- which would have required council approval -- would have moved 200 homes east of the district line in the Stonehurst community into Alarcon’s district. But during Greuel’s 2002 race, voters had urged her to keep foothill communities together during redistricting -- to avoid splitting them between two council districts.

“I didn’t feel comfortable making the change, because I wanted to keep the community together,” she said. “I didn’t have a justification for changing the lines within the census time period.”

Demerjian said Alarcon has been registered to vote at the Panorama City house, at the corner of Nordhoff and Wakefield Avenue. Montes de Oca is also registered to vote there, according to county officials.

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In 2007, Alarcon told The Times that Montes de Oca -- then his fiancee -- had been interested in developing town homes on the Nordhoff property. At the time, the councilman had also introduced a measure to reclassify the street from a busy highway designation to a quiet “collector” street, a move that would have spared Montes de Oca from having to forfeit 2,840 square feet of her lot to the city.

Days after The Times reported on the measure, Alarcon withdrew the proposal.

david.zahniser@latimes.com

maeve.reston@latimes.com

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Times staff writers Phil Willon and Joel Rubin contributed to this report.


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