Southern California breaking news and trends

Richard Alarcon, wife ordered to stand trial for perjury, voter fraud

Councilman Probe

Nick Ut/AP

Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife Flora were ordered to stand trial Tuesday on voter fraud and perjury charges. They will be arraigned on Oct. 18.

Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife will face trial for 23 felonies, including voter fraud and perjury, for allegedly living outside of the councilman’s Seventh District.

After a 10-day preliminary hearing that stretched out over two months, 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.

Arraignment for the couple is scheduled for Oct. 18. Attorneys for the Alarcons said they would file motions to dismiss the case.

Read More...

LA City Council aide charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter

City Councilman Richard Alarcon

Andres Aguila/KPCC

An aide to Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter today for allegedly striking and killing a homeless man back in March.

An aide to Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon was charged today with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for allegedly striking and killing a transient while driving a city car.

Manuel Figueras, 50, is accused of hitting Gary Woodford, 55, on Vineland Avenue at Erwin Street on March 14 around 7:30 p.m. Figueras was driving a city-issued Toyota Prius at the time of the crash.

Figueras will be arraigned on Sept. 17. Prosecutors will ask for $25,000 bail. If convicted, Figueras could face one year in county jail.

"I would again like to express my deep condolences to the family and friends of Gary Woodford, who died as a result of this accident," Alarcon said in a statment. 

"As Manny’s boss and friend, I can attest that he is beloved by the community. Manny has served the people of the northeast San Fernando Valley for nearly 20 years with distinction, compassion and concern. Without further information, I view this as a tragic accident and I am deeply saddened for all involved."

Read More...

Richard Alarcon gets his day in court for perjury, voter fraud charges (updated)

City Councilman Richard Alarcon

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon's preliminary hearing on voter fraud and perjury charges started today with testimony for a D.A.'s investigator.

Two years ago, Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon pleaded not guilty to accusations that he lived outside the district he represents. Today his preliminary hearing finally got underway with testimony from an investigator who kept surveillance on the Alarcon residence for two years.

The councilman is charged with 18 counts of perjury, voter fraud and falsifying a declaration of candidacy. His wife, Flora Alarcon, is also charged with perjury and voter fraud. Prosecutors believe Alarcon was living in a Sun Valley house that is in his wife's name, even though he claimed a Panorama City address as his residence. The Sun Valley house is outside of his district.

Acting on a tip to its Public Integrity department as well as an LA Weekly article, the D.A.'s office hired an investigator who watched the Panorama City house from April 2009 until April 2011. He was the prosecution’s first witness. David Babcock described visiting the home at different times of day to determine whether anyone lived there. The landscaping was overgrown, newspapers accumulated on the lawn, and the house “didn’t appear lived in,” he testified.

Read More...

Richard Alarcon, Felipe Fuentes fight over use of government staffs for political campaigns

City Councilman Richard Alarcon

Andres Aguila/KPCC

Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon categorically rejected an accusation today that one of his staffers was campaigning for him while on city time.

An aide to Los Angeles city councilman Richard Alarcon was accused today of campaigning for his boss while on city time – something the councilman strongly denied.

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, whose chief of staff, Raul Bocanegra, is running against Alarcon to succeed Fuentes in the state Assembly, made the accusation. For his part, Fuentes is running to replace Alarcon on the Los Angeles City Council.

In a letter to the councilman, a copy of which was distributed to media, Fuentes alleged that field deputy Maggie Estrada drove a city vehicle to a neighborhood watch meeting in the district on Aug. 1.

“At the meeting she stated – unprompted – that she would like an opportunity to talk about the candidate she is supporting in the race for the 39th Assembly District. Mrs. Estrada proceeded to pass out literature with your accomplishments from the state Senate,” according to the letter. 

Read More...

State bill: Convicted politicians banned from office for 20 years (updated)

California State Seal - Supreme court

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A new state bill would prohibit politicians convicted of violating the public trust from running for office until 20 years after their sentence is complete.

Politicians who are convicted of a felony related to violating the public's trust would be prohibited from running for any elected office in California for 20 years, under a bill sponsored by an Assemblyman whose chief of staff is running for office against a candidate charged with 18 felonies.

Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar, sponsored AB 2410, which was unanimously approved today by the state Assembly. The bill would ban elected officials from running for office until 20 years after their sentence, including probation, ends.

The bill would apply to felony convictions for accepting bribes, embezzling public funds, perjury or conspiracy to commit those crimes.

The chief of staff to Fuentes, Raul Bocanegra, is currently running for the Assembly against Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon, who is facing 18 felony charges for allegedly living outside of his district. The case, which includes allegations of voter fraud and perjury, was dismissed earlier this month, and then immediately refiled by the district attorney’s office. Alarcon has pleaded not guilty.

Read More...