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D.A. looking into campaign money laundering allegations involving donations to Huizar opponent

February 1, 2011 |  1:57 pm

The Los Angeles County district attorney has opened an inquiry into allegations that contributors to the campaign of District 14 City Council candidate Rudy Martinez were illegally reimbursed for their donations, an official in that office said Tuesday.

David Demerjian, head deputy for Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley's Public Integrity Division, said his office opened the inquiry into possible campaign money laundering Thursday.

Demerjian confirmed the existence of the inquiry one day after Martinez told The Times that FBI agents were investigating the private financial dealings of his opponent, incumbent Councilman Jose Huizar. Two other former Huizar staffers also told The Times that agents had questioned them.

The complaint submitted to Cooley came from Carlos Lira, who until December worked in the law firm of Nick Pacheco, a former city councilman who supports Martinez in his bid to unseat Huizar in the March 8 election. Lira said he and his wife were pressured by a business associate of Pacheco to make $500 contributions, then were reimbursed for half the amount weeks later.

Martinez said he was unaware of any reimbursements. He said he returned $6,000 -- $500 apiece to Pacheco and 11 of Pacheco’s employees -- in December, after the city Ethics Commission sent him a letter asking about the donations.

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L.A. Council candidate forum is tonight for San Fernando Valley seat

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

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