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Facing charges, ex-Compton Mayor Omar Bradley seeks reelection

January 24, 2013 |  1:31 pm

Former Compton Mayor Omar Bradley. Credit: Francine Orr/ Los Angeles Times

Former Compton Mayor Omar Bradley, whose conviction on corruption charges was reversed by an appeals court in August, has filed to run for the mayor's seat again.

Bradley is also facing a new trial on charges of misappropriation of public funds. The trial is set for April, the same month as Compton's municipal election.

Bradley filed to run for the mayor's seat on Tuesday, the last day for candidates to submit their papers. Twelve candidates have filed to run against Mayor Eric Perrodin. 

Bradley was convicted of misappropriation of public funds in 2004, along with former Councilman Amen Rahh and former City Manager John D. Johnson II. Prosecutors said the men had used their city-issued credit cards for personal items and "double dipped" by taking cash advances for city business expenses and then charging the items to their city credit cards.

Bradley was accused of misusing about $7,500 for purchases that included golf balls and shoes, cigars, a three-day stay in a penthouse hotel room and in-room movies.

The appeals court overturned Bradley's conviction based on a 2011 California Supreme Court decision that held that prosecutors must prove that officials knew or should have known that they were doing something illegal to be guilty of misappropriation of public funds.

The court found that Bradley's original trial had not proved that he knew he was breaking the law -- but left Rahh's and Johnson's convictions in place.

"What it's being tried on, essentially, is a change in jury instructions," said Jennifer Snyder, assistant head deputy district attorney in the Los Angeles County district attorney's public integrity unit. Snyder said she did not think the case had changed in any "substantive" way.

The reversal of Bradley's conviction left him free to run for office again, although if convicted in the new trial, he would again be barred from holding public office.

Bradley, who has maintained that he is innocent and that prosecutors are unfairly targeting him, told The Times that he felt an obligation to run, despite the pending criminal case, because of the fiscal crisis that has hamstrung the city over the last two years.

"I can't walk away with the people in need as they are," he said. "... My community needs me, and they should be able to choose freely who they believe is best able to fix this issue." 

Apart from Bradley, the field of challengers for the mayor's seat includes former child star Rodney Allen Rippy, civil rights attorney and Black Panther B. Kwaku Duren, former City Clerk Charles Davis and frequent City Hall critics William Kemp and Lynn Boone.

The April election will be the first the city has held under a new election system spurred by a voting-rights lawsuit brought by Latino residents. A settlement in the case led the city city to switch to by-district rather than at-large elections, a move intended to give Latino residents -- who make up a majority of the city's population but a minority of eligible voters -- a greater chance of electing a candidate of their choice.

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-- Abby Sewell

Photo: Former Compton Mayor Omar Bradley. Credit: Francine Orr/ Los Angeles Times

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