Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife were convicted Wednesday of some but not all voter-fraud and perjury charges brought in a case that accused them of lying about where they lived so he would be qualified to run for his council seat.
A seven-woman, five-man jury delivered the split verdicts to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli. The couple was accused of claiming to live in a Panorama City house that was under repair, when they actually lived in a larger, nicer home in Sun Valley, outside his 7th District.
State and city election law requires candidates to live in the district they seek to represent.
Alarcon, 60, was convicted of three voter-fraud charges and one perjury charge, but acquitted on 12 other counts. His wife, Flora Montes de Oca, was convicted of two voting charges and one perjury count.
Prosecutors said Alarcon lied when he swore that he lived in a home in Panorama City in L.A.'s 7th Council District so he could run in 2007 and 2009 to represent the district, which he did until last year. They said he actually lived in a bigger home outside the district in Sun Valley. The L.A. City Charter requires that candidates live in the districts they seek to represent.
During the trial, defense attorneys failed to convince the jury that the Alarcons were renovating the Panorama City home and planned to return to it, and so it qualified as their permanent residence.
California law defines residence for voting purposes as a “domicile,” a place where one intends to remain and return after an absence.
The prosecutor brought evidence showing that the Alarcons did not plan to return to the Panorama City home, including blueprints from 2007 for plans to develop the home into an apartment complex. The jury also heard former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel testify that Alarcon once called her and asked to move his Sun Valley home from Greuel’s district into his own.
The prosecutor relied on the testimony of Carolyn Jackson, who worked with city lawmakers as a representative of the city Department of Transportation before retiring in 2010, who said she met with Alarcon in May 2007, two months after he was elected to the council.
Jackson said when she congratulated him, Alarcon told her: “You know, I wasn’t even living in the district when I was elected.” Jackson said he added: “I am now, of course."
The verdict comes more than a month after the trial began, and nearly four years after the couple was originally indicted by a grand jury.
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