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D.A. searches two homes in investigation of L.A. councilman's district residency [Updated]

January 14, 2010 | 11:06 am
The Los Angeles County district attorney has opened an investigation to determine whether Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon illegally claimed a Panorama City house as his residence, officials said today.

Investigators with the D.A.'s Public Integrity Division served a search warrant Tuesday at a house on Nordhoff Street where Alarcon is registered to vote. The house is owned by Alarcon’s wife, Flora Montes de Oca, and is in his 7th Council District.

Another warrant was served at a second house owned by the councilman’s wife in the nearby neighborhood of Sun Valley. That house is in the 2nd Council District represented by newly elected Councilman Paul Krekorian.

David Demerjian, head deputy of the integrity division, said his office had received a complaint that Alarcon was living in a residence outside of his district. A politician who registers to vote at a place that is not his residence can be charged with a felony, Demerjian said.

Alarcon, 56, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He was attending a news conference in Mission Hills this morning. The warrants, which typically explain why investigators believe a search is justified, are under seal.

[Updated at 11:30 a.m.: Shortly after 11 a.m., Alarcon told The Times that he planned to “make it very clear” to investigators that he resides in the house in Panorama City.

He also said that he and his wife live in the 1950 tract house on Nordhoff while Montes de Oca’s son lives in the house on Sheldon Street in Sun Valley.

“We want to focus on cooperating with their questions and I’m confident that when we’ve provided the responses to their questions that it will be seen as a very simple misunderstanding,” he said.]

In the summer of 2007, The Times reported that after Alarcon was elected that spring, he asked then-2nd District Councilwoman Wendy Greuel to support an attempt to redraw boundaries so his wife’s Sun Valley home would be moved into his 7th Council District. Greuel refused.

County officials said Montes de Oca is also registered to vote at the Panorama City house.

Alarcon had told The Times that Montes de Oca -- then his fiancee -- had been interested in developing town homes on the Nordhoff property that he had claimed as his residence. At the time, the councilman had introduced a measure to reclassify the street, a move that would have spared Montes de Oca from having to forfeit 2,840 square feet of her lot to the city.

Days after The Times reported on the proposal, Alarcon withdrew the proposal.

-- David Zahniser at L.A. City Hall