Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon, convicted of fraudulent voting and perjury for living outside the district he represented, was sentenced to 120 days in jail.
Alarcon was also ordered Tuesday, Oct. 14, to do 600 hours of community service, placed on five years probation and barred from holding public office.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli ordered Alarcon to surrender Dec. 10 to begin serving his jail term, and said he was “not inclined” to allow the defense’s request to put the sentence on hold while the former councilman appeals his conviction.
Alarcon’s wife, Flora, who was also convicted of fraudulent voting and perjury, was sentenced to 400 hours of community service and placed on five years probation.
Alarcon, 60, was convicted July 23 of three counts of fraudulent voting and one count of perjury by declaration, but was acquitted of a dozen other felony counts.
His wife, Flora, 49, was convicted of two counts of fraudulent voting and one count of perjury by declaration. Jurors acquitted her of two other counts.
The judge denied the defense’s motions for a new trial, finding that there was “substantial credible and reasonable evidence” to support the jury’s verdict.
Sun Valley resident Harley Chambers, a neighbor of the couple, reacted to the sentence.
“He wasn’t representing the district he was voted for. He deserved what he got. It’s kind of a tough sentence, but he must have known there would be a penalty…It’s hard for me to feel sorry for politicians when they do things like this to themselves,” Chambers said.
Another neighbor, Joe Amado agreed. “Yeah, I know his wife and everything. He got in trouble, and that’s the way it works. … I knew they would give him community service but I didn’t think they would give him jail time. He pulled a scam or whatever he did…if you do something wrong, you gotta pay the price.”
Letters Of Support
A family friend, who asked not to be identified, told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol the Alarcons had asked for a letter they could give to the judge that would speak positively about them.
“I wrote a letter for them. I’m glad that Flora didn’t get any jail time. I was very concerned for her especially because a mother shouldn’t be separated from her young daughter. I know going through all of this, has taken a real hard financial toll on them,” the friend said.
Actor Danny Trejo, also wrote a letter for the couple referencing Alarcon’s service to the community.
Alarcon’s attorney, Richard Lasting, told the judge that numerous letters had been submitted on his client’s behalf and said his client had been “a dedicated public servant.”
“I don’t think that jail time is appropriate,” Lasting argued.
Deputy District Attorney Michele Gilmer countered that Alarcon was not serving his constituents by “putting on a charade” at a home that was within his council district when utility bills showed that there wasn’t enough gas or water being used for anyone to be living there, and that he did not provide a good example as a lawmaker and leader.
She said a jail term for Alarcon would send a “strong message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”
The judge noted that he had taken into account that Alarcon had a “long career” in public service, along with the jury’s findings.
Prosecutor Wanted Longer Sentences
The sentences imposed on Alarcon and his wife were slightly less than those requested by the prosecution.
In a sentencing memorandum, Gilmer had asked the judge to sentence Alarcon to 180 days in jail and 1,000 hours of community service, along with the five-year probationary term. The prosecution asked the judge to sentence Flora Alarcon to 500 hours of community service, along with the five years on probation.
The judge ruled that the two must perform their community service in Alarcon’s former council district.
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 during the Alarcon’s trial that the evidence proved the couple lied about living at a home in Panorama City, which was within Alarcon’s city council district.
The longtime legislator — who served two separate terms on the city council along with stints in the state Senate and Assembly — has insisted that he began living at the Panorama City home within the council district 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 an October 2009 break-in 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 a house in an adjacent council 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.
In the end, no one believed Alarcon really lived in the Panorama City home, especially when looking at the two homes side by side. The Panorama City home looked unkempt and shabby while the Sun Valley home was well maintained and attractive.
While the judge took Alarcon’s public service into consideration when handing down the sentence, Gilmer, in her filing, made the point that because he was a “a seasoned public figure” who has served as a city councilman, state senator and assemblyman, he knew exactly what he was doing, especially because he went so far as to try to get the district lines changed so that the Sun Valley home would fall into his district.
“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 … 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.”
Alarcon’s jail sentence marks the second handed down in recent months to area legislators convicted of lying about living outside the districts they were elected to represent.
Former state Sen. Roderick Wright, a veteran Democratic politician who represented the Inglewood area, is set to surrender Oct. 31 to begin serving a 90-day jail term for his conviction Jan. 28 on five counts of fraudulent voting, two counts of perjury by declaration and one count of filing a false declaration of candidacy. Wright was also ordered to perform 1,500 hours of community service and to serve three years on probation.