Politics

Councilman Alarcon in court for preliminary hearing

Friday, August 10, 2012

Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon appeared in court Friday for a preliminary hearing looking into whether there's enough evidence for Alarcon and his wife to stand trial on charges of voter fraud.

Alarcon and wife Flora face time in prison if found guilty of voter fraud and lying about where they lived when he decided to run for the city council. They are both charged with 24 felonies. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The Alarcons claim a house in Panorama City is their primary residence. It's in Alarcon's council district. By law a councilman must live in the district he represents.

David Babcock, an investigator for the district attorney, spent more than a year on the case before charges were filed. Prosecutor Jennifer Lentz Snyder questioned him Friday.

Babcock described how over a period of many months he went to the Panorama City home at all hours. He testified that he knocked on the door and looked in windows.

But Babcock says he saw the Alarcons living in a home in Sun Valley miles from Alarcon's council district. The Sun Valley residence is owned by Alarcon's wife. The councilman says they lived there while the Panorama City home was being repaired.

Babcock says he saw no signs of any repairs or improvement for nearly a year, until after the case became made public. He told the prosecutor it was his opinion the Panorama City residence was not occupied, based on the totality of his investigation.

Judge M.L. Villar de Longoria will decide if the Alarcons go to trial. The judge is, coincidentally, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's sister.

The preliminary hearing will continue next week with witnesses from both sides. It ultimately will be up to the judge to decide whether there is enough evidence to hold a trial for Alarcon and his wife.

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san fernando valley, legal, politics, john north
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