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D.A. closes inquiry into L.A. Councilman Parks' candidacy and voting residence

August 25, 2010 |  6:09 pm
The Los Angeles County district attorney has closed an inquiry into a complaint that Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks falsified candidacy and voter documents in connection with his unsuccessful 2008 run for county supervisor.

David Demerjian, who heads the D.A.'s public integrity division, said Wednesday that his office had decided not to file criminal charges and closed the case Tuesday.

In a letter sent about seven months ago, several people alleged to Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley that Parks had used the wrong address when filing his candidacy papers in late February 2008 and again when he voted in the June primary that year.

They alleged that Parks had moved to a new house before filing his papers but illegally used his former address on candidacy forms and in voting. The new house, however, was within both the 8th City Council District that Parks currently represents and the 2nd District seat he sought on the county Board of Supervisors. (A local office-seeker is required to live in the district he or she wants to represent.)

The letter writers also said Parks had illegally claimed a homeowner exemption for property taxes on a Windsor Hills home he had lived in before running for council.  (That house was outside city limits, and Parks moved his family before his successful 2003 run for the council seat.)  County assessor records showed that the exemption, available only to owners who live in their properties, had been canceled, and the tax savings repaid, in 2008.

The councilman's son and spokesman, Bernard C. Parks Jr., said Wednesday that the allegations stemmed from an "ongoing smear campaign" by a community newspaper and one of its columnists.
"He's lived in the district since 2002, when he took out papers to run for the council, and has not moved from the district since then," the younger Parks said of his father.

In recent years, Cooley has prosecuted several politicians for registering to vote and getting elected in areas in which they don't live. Prosecutors recently indicted City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife on perjury and voter fraud charges for allegedly falsely claiming an address as his residence.  Alarcon was also charged with filing a false declaration of candidacy. Both Alarcons have firmly denied any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors also have been conducting an investigation into whether state Sen. Rod Wright (D-Inglewood) may have perjured himself regarding his residency when running for the Senate seat in 2008. Last year, they searched two homes owned by Wright, who has since formed a legal defense fund.

-- Jean Merl