Ludlow gossip turns into something *

Rumors about Villaraigosa intimate Martin Ludlow swept California political circles all week and finally make it into print in Friday's LAT: Sources say the former city councilman may take a leave or resign as head of the County Federation of Labor and negotiate a plea bargain to end an investigation of union involvement in his 2003 council campaign.

Union officials seemed stunned as word circulated that Ludlow might face criminal charges. Only last summer, he resigned his council post to became executive secretary-treasurer — the top staff position — of the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor upon the sudden death of his union mentor, Miguel Contreras.

"I'm just devastated," said Rick Icaza, federation president. "We're going to have to have an emergency meeting to appoint a successor."

For weeks federal and state authorities have been questioning union officials about whether Ludlow's campaign received illegal union assistance.

If Ludlow accepts the plea offer, sources said, he might avoid jail but face a heavy fine and be banned from public office or union posts for at least 10 years.

Mayor Villaraigosa declined to address the allegations against Ludlow, but added: "Let me be clear about this. He's like a son to me. I love him." Nothing in the Daily News, Daily Journal or La Opinión, and it's too early for the Breeze website, so it's possible that Patrick McGreevy and Steve Hymon have it alone. * And: (11:20 am) I'm told the Korea Times has a story, but it's not on their website and I couldn't read it anyway.


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