In unusual twist in case, Councilman Alarcon arraigned on criminal complaint; pleads not guilty

Councilman Probe

Nick Ut/AP

In 2010, Councilman Richard Alarcon, right, and his wife, Flora Montes De Oca Alarcon speak to media outside court where they were indicted on a total of 24 felony counts stemming from allegations Richard Alarcon lived outside his district. The charges were eventually dismissed by a judge, but prosecutors refiled them in the form of a criminal complaint.

LA City Councilman Richard Alarcon pleaded not guilty on Friday on charges he lived in his wife’s Sun Valley home, which was outside the 7th District he represents. This time, he and his wife Flora faced a standardcriminal complaint instead of the grand jury indictment a judge dismissed on Thursday.

The judge said District Attorney Steve Cooley’s prosecutors failed to fulfill their obligation to give the grand jury evidence favorable to Alarcon. Under grand jury rules, defense attorneys are not allowed to present evidence. Its one reason critics say the process is unfair — prosecutors can convince grand juries to indict a ham sandwich.

Cooley said his prosecutors followed the rules and called the judge’s decision “inexplicable.”

But with a criminal complaint, prosecutors must show in a preliminary hearing that they have enough evidence to take Alarcon to trial. Alarcon, 58, issued a statement saying he and his wife are innocent.

“We remain confident that once the exonerating evidence we provided is considered, that we will be acquitted of these charges.”

An attorney for Alarcon said they have pictures and documents that show the councilman was doing renovations on his home – and that’s why he was not living in the district he represents. At one point, while Alarcon was out of the house, a squatter moved in.

Alarcon served on the city council in the 1990s and in the state Assembly and Senate. He returned to the council in 2007. The councilman is running for the Assembly again.

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