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Reviews of Assembly rivals’ residency issues closed

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has notified those who raised residency issues about candidates in an election for a Glendale-area state Assembly seat last year that reviews of their complaints have been closed without further action.

Supporters of Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) and also of his opponent, Republican businessman Sunder Ramani, filed complaints alleging that the other candidate had violated state elections requirements for district residency and voting. But in letters sent to complainants last month, David E. Demerjian, head of the district attorney’s Public Integrity Division, said there was “insufficient evidence” to further pursue the cases.

The district attorney is required to look into complaints of elections-related wrongdoing. Both Gatto and Ramani said last fall, when the complaints were filed about a month apart before the Nov. 2 election, that the allegations were without merit.

Gatto and Ramani were competitors for the 43rd Assembly District seat once held by Paul Krekorian, who left the office after winning election to the Los Angeles City Council. Gatto handily won the Assembly election, as well as a special election for Krekorian’s unexpired term earlier last year.

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At least one Democrat wrote to the D.A. in late August 2010, alleging that Ramani still lived outside the district with his family in their La Cañada Flintridge house and not in the Burbank apartment he had rented and claimed as his residence when he filed for office.

Candidacy forms, as with voter registration affadavits, are signed under penalty of perjury.

On Oct. 20, after news stories were published about the allegations against Ramani, Jane Barnett, an official of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, alleged in a letter to Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley that Gatto had earlier voted in at least one district election while supposedly living elsewhere.

In letters written last month, Cooley and Demerjian told complainants the office had “determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.”

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Gatto said this week that he was “not surprised” by the D.A.'s conclusions but said it was “sad that these kinds of allegations are becoming a part of modern campaigns.”

Ramani said he had not worried about the outcome of the D.A.'s reviews but was “disappointed” that candidates “who want to make a difference and serve their communities” were subjected to false accusations.

jean.merl@latimes.com


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