Politics

Orange County Assessor Webster Guillory's felony arraignment rescheduled

Orange County

Orange County Assessor Webster Guillory was supposed to appear in court Friday — but his arraignment has been rescheduled  for Sept. 22.

Guillory faces three felony counts of filing false nomination papers in the primary election held this past June. Prosecutors say the assessor signed his name on two of the petitions collected by his associate — falsely claiming he had collected and witnessed the signatures — and allegedly asked another colleague to sign a third petition falsely.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach is taking a stand in defense of Guillory. Moorlach says the charges are out of proportion, adding that a matter like this should warrant only a fine — if anything.

"Webster is a consummate professional and we work together well, and I called him up, and I said 'boy, this is gut-wrenching, this is heartrending that something like this would happen to such a fine individual. I'm here to support you.' And he was very appreciative and was rather calm, and just ready to move forward, and get it behind him."

Moorlach says Guillory initially decided against a reelection bid and had planned to retire. But various civic and business leaders encouraged another run, so he rushed to gather signatures.

Guillory's lawyer, John Barnett, argues this is all a clerical error — and that his client did not commit any crimes. 

"Well, I think [the prosecution] just misunderstood the fact, because the facts do not show that he knowingly filed a document that was false," Barnett told KPCC. "And that's what's required by the statute is that he file a document or cause a document to be filed, which he knows to be false. And that's not what happened."

Guillory served as the Orange County assessor since 1998. He faces a runoff election this November.

If convicted, he could get up to four years and four months in jail.

This story has been updated.