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Judge, two others, indicted in alleged campaign scheme [Updated]

July 9, 2009 |  9:33 pm

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has been indicted on charges of trying to bribe his opponent in a 2008 election campaign, a spokesman for state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown said Thursday evening.

Judge Harvey A. Silberman and two political consultants are accused of trying to induce Deputy Dist. Atty. Serena Murillo not to run against him in the June 2008 election — apparently unsuccessfully, because she did run, losing by a margin of 53% to 47%. The three are accused of two counts each of solicitation. The charges were filed June 24, but Brown spokesman Scott Gerber said they were only unsealed Thursday.

Gerber said the two political consultants, A. Randall Steinberg and Evelyn Jerome Alexander of SJA Strategies, pleaded not guilty, and Silberman’s plea was postponed until a judge could be designated from another county to hear the case. All three were released on $20,000 bond.

Steve Meister, an attorney for Steinberg, said he couldn’t comment on the substance of the case but described his client as “a person of excellent character and high morals” who would be vindicated. Larry Bakman, a lawyer for Alexander, said his client had no comment except to express "her hope to resolve this through the trial process." He added that her defense would rest in part on raising "doubts regarding both the reliability and credibility of the prosecution's witnesses," including Murillo.

Neither Silberman nor his attorney could be reached for comment. Murillo declined to comment.

Gerber said he didn't know the details of the alleged scheme or what Murillo was alleged to have been offered. Before his election to Superior Court, Silberman served as a family court commissioner for four years and previously practiced public interest law, according to his campaign biography.

--Mitchell Landsberg

[Updated at 9:49 p.m.:Daniel Nixon, a lawyer for Silberman, said late Thursday that the judge "is appalled and outraged by these charges. He has done nothing wrong. He is absolutely innocent, and he is going to fight these charges with all of his might."

Nixon added that Silberman had cooperated fully with investigators, including an investigation by the district attorney's office that began well before the 2008 election.]