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Judge dismisses voter fraud case against councilman Alarcon, wife

May 3, 2012 | 10:13 am

Councilman Richard AlarconThis post has been corrected. Please see the note below.

A high-profile perjury and voter fraud case against Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife was dismissed Thursday morning by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, but prosecutors may refile.

"The case is not over in our mind by any stretch," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Jennifer Lentz Snyder.

Judge Kathleen Kennedy dismissed the case, saying the prosecution failed to present evidence to the grand jury that undercut its case.

At a hearing in March, Kennedy made her concerns known to Lentz Snyder, and accused her of being "very dismissive" of defense evidence submitted to a grand jury in 2010. Those jurors returned a 24-count felony indictment against the Alarcons, who have pleaded not guilty.

The district attorney's Public Integrity Division alleges that the Alarcons lied about where they were living so that the veteran San Fernando Valley politician could run for the council seat representing the 7th District.

Beginning in 2006, Alarcon had listed a tract house in Panorama City as his residence, just as he was contemplating a return to the council after an eight-year absence. Prosecutors contend, however, that the Alarcons were actually living in Sun Valley, outside of the district.

Kennedy, according to the transcripts, suggested that Lentz Snyder had stacked the deck against the Alarcons during the grand jury proceeding by making light of documents submitted by the defense that purportedly showed the couple were indeed living at the house in question.

Alarcon, who is being termed out of his 7th District council seat next year, has already moved to a third house -- this one a three-bedroom in nearby Mission Hills and also owned by his wife. The latest move allows him to run for the 39th Assembly District, covering much of the same northeast Valley area he has represented for nearly two decades.

Alarcon's attorney, Fred Woocher, said it's unclear what effect the dismissal will have on damage done to the politician's reputation as a result of the indictments.

"It depends on what the prosecution does," Woocher said. "What it makes clear is that he was indicted unfairly."

For the record, 11:20 a.m. May 3: An earlier version of this post said Judge Kennedy made her concerns known to the prosecutor at a hearing last month. The hearing was in March.

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--Catherine Saillant

Photo: Councilman Richard Alarcon  Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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