Ex-L.A. Councilman|Given 120-Day Sentence

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Los Angeles man will spend 120 days in jail for lying about where he lived to secure his City Council seat, a judge ruled Tuesday, refusing to grant a retrial.
     A jury convicted Richard Alarcon, 60, and his wife, Flora Montes De Oca Alarcon, 49, in July on different charges.
     The politician was convicted of one count of perjury on a declaration to run for office, and three counts of fraudulently voting in elections for 2007 and 2009.
     Alarcon and his wife were found to have lied about living on Nordhoff Street in Panorama City so he could run for his seat in L.A.’s 7th City Council District.
     While prosecutors showed that the couple actually lived outside the district in a bigger house in Sun Valley, the couple claimed that they had only relocated temporarily during the renovation of their permanent home on Nordhoff Street.
     Witnesses testified that the home appeared unkempt and vacant.
     The jury found Alarcon’s wife guilty of perjury for claiming that she lived at a Nordhoff Street address on a provisional voting ballot. She was also convicted of having fraudulently voting in elections in 2009.
     Unlike her husband, Flora Alarcon escaped jail time. She must complete 400 hours of community service and five years probation. Richard Alarcon received 600 hours of community service in addition to the 120-day sentence and five years of probation. Both are disqualified from holding elective office.
     The Alarcons appeared solemn as counsel led them out of the courtroom to a nearby bank of elevators at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles.
     Their attorney Richard Lasting declined to comment at this time.
     Husband and wife will complete their community service in the district. L.A. County prosecutor Jackie Lacey had asked the court to dedicate half those hours to graffiti removal in the 7th District.
     Rose Matsui Ochi, a former deputy under Mayor Tom Bradley, appeared in court to support Alarcon.
     Ochi had helped launch Alarcon’s political career by hiring him to work at the mayor’s office Valley Juvenile Diversion Project.
     Speaking outside the courtroom, Ochi said that she believed that the sentence was harsh and that the matter had been a “waste of resources.”
     “As a citizen, I think it’s ridiculous,” Ochi said of his sentencing and residency issue. “When you look at the facts, you get married, you have children … and you need a lot of room to house his new family, you try to do the remodeling.”
     “The voters were not in anyway harmed,” Ochi added.
     Judge George Lomeli rejected a motion to grant the couple a retrial. In an Aug. 20 filing supporting for such relief, Lasting called the verdicts “perplexing and inconsistent,” and not supported by the evidence.
     Lasting took issue with the court’s instruction to jurors on the meaning of the terms “address where you live,” and “domicile.” He said there was a lack of clarity in those instructions and that the prosecutions had failed to “present evidence sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that either Richard or Flora ‘were not entitled to vote’ in the elections in which they were convicted.”
     Carolyn Jackson, a retired representative of the city Department of Transportation, said Alarcon had told her that his home wasn’t in the district. That was just months after he was elected in 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported.
     Jackson said that the councilman had told her: “You know, I wasn’t even living in the district when I was elected. … I am now, of course.”
     Alarcon will surrender to authorities on Dec. 10 to begin his jail time.
     Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.
     In a Sept. 10 sentencing memorandum, Los Angeles County prosecutor Michele Gilmer said that Alarcon was “not remorseful” and “remains utterly unrepentant.”
     “Immediately after the verdict it was reported that he stated, ‘I am innocent of the charges,'” the memo states. “Even after being confronted with numerous witnesses that testified at trial that the Nordhoff residence appeared vacant, and the overwhelming evidence demonstrating a lack of use of utilities inside of the home, Richard Alarcon refuses to accept responsibility for his actions.”

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