Daily News photo of Alarcon's Panorama City house in 2010 | Michael Owen Baker
Former City Councilman Richard Alarcon was convicted by a jury Wednesday of three charges of voter fraud, and one charge of perjury, in connection with his claim that he lived in a rundown Panorama City home rather than his wife's nicer Sun Valley home while Alarcon was in office and voted in elections. The Panorama City house was in his council district, as required by law. The Sun Valley residence was in a neighboring district. The jury acquitted Alarcon on 12 other related counts.
Flora Montes de Oca, Alarcon's wife, was convicted of two voting charges and one perjury charges. The law says you can live wherever you want, but you have to swear to it when you register to vote — and if you run for a state or city office you have to live within the district you want to represent. Pretty simple, really.
It has been nearly four years since the Alarcons were first indicted in the case. A judge threw out the case against both Alarcons two years ago, but then-DA Steve Cooley refiled the charges. The Alarcons insisted on their innocence, saying they always considered Panorama City home, but the prosecutors and now the jury didn't buy it. There's a lot of hanky panky played around the legal residence requirement by politicians, but the Alarcons are that rare case that got pursued all the way.
Alarcon, 60, served three terms on the Los Angeles City Council. He also had been in the state Senate and Assembly as a Democrat from the Valley. Alarcon said on his way outside of court that he would appeal.
The condition of his Nordhoff Street property in Panorama City didn't help Alarcon's argument that he lived there — the neighbors complained about the brown grass and weeds, and at one point a squatter had moved in.
From today's LA Times story:
The prosecutor brought evidence showing that the Alarcons did not plan to return to the Panorama City home, including blueprints from 2007 for plans to develop the home into an apartment complex. The jury also heard former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel testify that Alarcon once called her and asked to move his Sun Valley home from Greuel's district into his own.
The prosecutor relied on the testimony of Carolyn Jackson, who worked with city lawmakers as a representative of the city Department of Transportation before retiring in 2010, who said she met with Alarcon in May 2007, two months after he was elected to the council.
Jackson said when she congratulated him, Alarcon told her: "You know, I wasn't even living in the district when I was elected." Jackson said he added: "I am now, of course."