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UPDATE: Los Angeles Councilman Richard Alarcon, wife plead not guilty to 23 felonies

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Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife pleaded not guilty Thursday to 23 felonies, including voter fraud and perjury, for allegedly having lived for a time outside the councilman’s Seventh District.

Attorneys for the couple said they will file a motion to dismiss the case in the next 60 days. The Alarcons will be back in court on Nov. 15 for a pretrial hearing to obtain transcripts from the preliminary hearing.

Earlier this month, Judge M. L. Villar de Longoria determined there was enough evidence for both Richard and Flora Alarcon to face trial. The councilman is charged with: 

  • Nine counts of perjury
  • Seven counts of voter fraud
  • One count of false declaration of candidacy 

A second charge of filing a false declaration of candidacy was dismissed. Flora Alarcon is charged with three counts of perjury and three counts of voter fraud.

Alarcon will appear on next month’s ballot as a candidate for the state Assembly’s 39th District. Outside the courthouse Thursday morning, he acknowledged the trial is playing a role in his campaign.

“The issue is about residency and I think all the voters have the opportunity to consider my service versus a residency issue and let the courts decide,” Alarcon said. “We are innocent. We don’t believe we did anything wrong and we’ll prove it.”

Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman was skeptical that the charges would be dismissed, though the case was tossed out in the spring — then immediately refilled by the District Attorney’s Office. 

“It seems unlikely to me," Huntsman said. "We’ve just had a superior court judge hear the evidence and rule on it and it seemed to me that her ruling was quite reasonable.”

During the 10-day preliminary hearing, which stretched out over two months, Prosecutor Jennifer Lentz Snyder argued the councilman never really lived at his declared address in Panorama City. Instead, the Alarcons and their children allegedly lived in Sun Valley home, which is outside the L.A. City Council’s Seventh District, Snyder said.

Lawyers for the Alarcons rebutted that the couple decided to renovate the Panorama City home when they married in 2007. However, because relatives were tasked with the renovation, the project took more than two years, attorneys said. Just as the family was getting ready to move into the home in October 2009, a squatter was discovered in the residence.

This post has been updated.

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