Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon, convicted of fraudulent voting and perjury for living outside the district he represented, was sentenced Wednesday to 120 days in jail, ordered to do 600 hours of community service, placed on five years probation and barred from holding public office.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli ordered Alarcon to surrender Dec. 10 to begin serving his jail term, and said he was “not inclined” to allow the defense’s request to put the sentence on hold while the former councilman appeals his conviction.
Alarcon’s wife, Flora, who was also convicted of fraudulent voting and perjury, was sentenced to 400 hours of community service and placed on five years probation.
Alarcon, 60, was convicted July 23 of three counts of fraudulent voting and one count of perjury by declaration, but was acquitted of a dozen other felony counts.
Flora, 49, was convicted of two counts of fraudulent voting and one count of perjury by declaration. Jurors acquitted her of two other counts.
The judge denied the defense’s motions for a new trial, finding that there was “substantial credible and reasonable evidence” to support the jury’s verdict.
Alarcon’s attorney, Richard Lasting, told the judge that numerous letters had been submitted on his client’s behalf and said his client had been “a dedicated public servant.”
“I don’t think that jail time is appropriate,” Lasting argued.
Deputy District Attorney Michele Gilmer countered that Alarcon was not serving his constituents by “putting on a charade” at a home that was within his council district when utility bills showed that there wasn’t enough gas or water being used for anyone to be living there, and that he did not provide a good example as a lawmaker and leader.
She said a jail term for Alarcon would send a “strong message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”
The judge noted that he had taken into account that Alarcon had a “long career” in public service, along with the jury’s findings.
The sentences imposed on Alarcon and his wife were slightly less than those requested by the prosecution.
In a sentencing memorandum, Gilmer had asked the judge to sentence Alarcon to 180 days in jail and 1,000 hours of community service, along with the five-year probationary term. The prosecution asked the judge to sentence Flora Alarcon to 500 hours of community service, along with five years of probation.
The judge ruled that the two must perform their community service in Alarcon’s former council district.
Alarcon was convicted of fraudulent voting in November 2008 and the March and May elections in 2009, and perjury by declaration involving his November 2008 declaration of intent to become a candidate for city council.
His wife was convicted of fraudulently voting in the March 2009 and May 2009 elections, along with perjury by declaration involving a provisional ballot cast in November 2008.
Gilmer told the jury during the Alarcon’s trial that the evidence proved the couple lied about living at a home in Panorama City, which was within Alarcon’s city council district.
The longtime legislator—who served two separate terms on the city council along with stints in the state Senate and Assembly—has insisted that he began living at the Panorama City home within the council district in November 2006.
Shortly after a search warrant was served, he told reporters that an intruder had caused significant damage to the Panorama City home during an October 2009 break-in and that he had returned to the house several times to try to repair the damage. He said then that he and his wife were temporarily staying at a house in an adjacent council district.
In July 2010, just before a grand jury indicted Alarcon and his wife, he said: “Because my wife owns two homes and we have stayed in both of them during the last four years, I can understand the confusion, but my permanent home has always been on Nordhoff Street (in Panorama City), regardless of where I may stay.”
In May 2012, Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy dismissed the indictment against the couple. Hours later, Los Angeles County prosecutors re-filed charges.
Alarcon’s jail sentence marks the second handed down in recent months to area legislators convicted of lying about living outside the districts they were elected to represent.
Former state Sen. Roderick Wright, a veteran Democratic politician who represented the Inglewood area, is set to surrender Oct. 31 to begin serving a 90-day jail term for his conviction Jan. 28 on five counts of fraudulent voting, two counts of perjury by declaration and one count of filing a false declaration of candidacy. Wright was also ordered to perform 1,500 hours of community service and to serve three years on probation.