LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The prosecution is asking that former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon — who was convicted of fraudulent voting and perjury for living outside the district he was elected to represent — be sentenced to 180 days in county jail and 1,000 hours of community service.
In a sentencing memorandum released today, Deputy District Attorney Michele Gilmer also asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli to order Alarcon to serve five years of probation and to disqualify him from holding any office in the future.
On Wednesday, Sept. 10, Lomeli set the Alarcons’ next court date for Oct. 14. Lomeli will listen to motions from defense attorneys seeking a new trial and, pending that decision, could hand down a sentence.
Alarcon, 60, was convicted July 23 of three counts of fraudulent voting and a single count of perjury by declaration, but was acquitted of a dozen other felony counts.
His wife, Flora, now 49, was convicted of two counts of fraudulent voting and one count of perjury by declaration. Jurors acquitted her of two other counts.
The two are due back in court later today, but their sentencing is expected to be postponed to a later date.
In her filing, Gilmer called Alarcon “a seasoned public figure” who had previously held positions as a city councilman, state senator and assemblyman.
“He was a lawmaker when he made the calculated decision that he was going to break the law for profit and his own aggrandizement, self-preservation and convenience,” the prosecutor wrote.
“While he may have thought that he could perform his duties as a councilman from (a) home in Council District 2, that is not what he was elected to do …,” she wrote. “The constituents of District 7 expected and assumed, since it was required by law, they were voting for a candidate that lived amongst them in District 7, not an individual that thought he was too good to live amongst the people that elected him.”
The prosecutor urged the judge to order Alarcon to serve time behind bars, saying it would otherwise send “the wrong message to the residents of the city of Los Angeles and other elected officials.”
“If the punishment for an elected official is probation without custody time, for many, the benefits of having political prestige, a nice salary, a county vehicle and a lifetime pension from their accumulated service outweigh the risk of potentially getting caught for disregarding the residency laws while in office,” Gilmer wrote. “Probation is not a strong deterrent, but custody time is.”
The prosecutor noted that she would be requesting a 180-day home detention term for Alarcon if the judge felt that a jail term was not warranted.
Gilmer asked the judge to sentence Alarcon’s wife to 500 hours of community service and five years probation.
Alarcon was convicted of fraudulent voting in November 2008 and the March and May elections in 2009, and perjury by declaration involving his November 2008 declaration of intent to become a candidate for city council.
His wife was convicted of fraudulently voting in the March 2009 and May 2009 elections, along with perjury by declaration involving a provisional ballot in November 2008.
Gilmer told the jury that the evidence proved the couple lied about living at the Panorama City home, which was within Alarcon’s city council district. Prosecution witnesses, including neighbors, described the home as appearing to be vacant.
Alarcon unsuccessfully approached now-former City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel in an effort to have the boundaries of his district changed so his wife’s home in Sun Valley, located in the council district Greuel represented, would be included in his district, the prosecutor said. That showed he had “full knowledge of the law” that he had to live in the district he represented, she said.
Flora Alarcon’s attorney, Mark Overland, argued the case amounted to “word crimes.”
“These are crimes about using the wrong words,” Overland told jurors of the issue about residence and domicile. He argued the couple always intended to return to the Panorama City home, despite not being there every day.
Richard Alarcon’s attorney, Rich ard Lasting, questioned the testimony from neighbors, saying one couple didn’t even notice changes to the exterior of the property and that some believed the home was vacant when more electricity was being used at the property in 2006 and 2007 than at the larger home in Sun Valley that Flora Alarcon owned.
The longtime legislator insisted that he began living at the Panorama City home in November 2006.
Shortly after a search warrant was served, he told reporters that an intruder had caused significant damage to the Panorama City home during a break-in in October 2009 and that he had returned to the house several times to try to repair the damage. He said then that he and his wife were temporarily staying at another house in the Second District.
In July 2010, just before a grand jury indicted Alarcon and his wife, he said: “Because my wife owns two homes and we have stayed in both of them during the last four years, I can understand the confusion, but my permanent home has always been on Nordhoff Street (in Panorama City), regardless of where I may stay.”
In May 2012, Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy dismissed the indictment against the couple. Hours later, Los Angeles County prosecutors re-filed charges.
Sen. Roderick Wright was convicted Jan. 28 of similar charges, with prosecutors in that case contending that he lived outside the district he was elected to represent. Wright was suspended March 28 by the state Senate and is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday.