By TERRI VERMEULEN KEITH
City News Service
Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife did not live in a Panorama City home the politician claimed as his residence, a prosecutor told jurors today, but defense attorneys urged the panel to acquit the two of perjury and voter fraud charges.
Alarcon, 60, is charged with 16 felonies -- seven counts of fraudulent voting, six counts of perjury by declaration and three counts of perjury in an application for a driver's license. The prosecution contends the crimes occurred between November 2006 and May 2009.
His wife, Flora Montes de Oca Alarcon, 48, is charged with six felony counts -- three counts each of perjury by declaration and fraudulent voting in elections in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Deputy District Attorney Michele Gilmer told the Los Angeles Superior Court panel there was minimal water usage at the property where Alarcon claimed to be living between 2006 and 2009, saying that the daily water usage was "not even enough water to flush a toilet four times."
She said neighbors of the home on Nordhoff Street in Panorama City did not start to notice of more activity at the house until after a search warrant was served in 2010 during an investigation into whether Alarcon was living at a home his wife owned in Sun Valley, outside the 7th District he was elected to represent.
The prosecutor said evidence presented during the trial would show that the Nordhoff house was "supposed to be a trick to the eyes, an illusion."
"It wasn't real," she said. "They weren't living there."
Alarcon's attorney, Richard Lasting, told jurors that Alarcon had moved into the Panorama City house in November 2006 and considered that his "domicile."
The defense lawyer said Alarcon did "do-it-yourself" work on the property with his wife and her family members to begin renovating the home, while acknowledging that they were not working there every day because of his responsibilities at the time as a city councilman.
Alarcon was planning to move his family into the home around October 2009 when an intruder dumped some of Alarcon's property into the street, and work was necessary to repair damage done by the intruder and police as they forced their way into the house to arrest the suspect, Lasting told jurors.
Flora Alarcon's attorney, Mark Overland, told jurors that he believed they will see at the end of the case that "the evidence is not even close," calling "reasonable doubt so abundant that it's not going to be difficult at all" to acquit the couple.
The longtime legislator -- who has also served in the state Senate and Assembly -- has contested the charges, insisting that he began living at the Panorama City home in November 2006.
Shortly after the search warrant was served at the home on Nordhoff, Alarcon told reporters the intruder had caused significant damage to the Panorama City home during the October 2009 break-in and that he had returned to the house several times to try to repair the damage. He said he and his wife were temporarily staying at another house in the 2nd District.
In July 2010, just before the grand jury indicted Alarcon and his wife, he said: "Because my wife owns two homes and we have stayed in both of them during the last four years, I can understand the confusion, but my permanent home has always been on Nordhoff Street, regardless of where I may stay."
In May 2012, Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy dismissed the indictment against the couple. Hours later, Los Angeles County prosecutors re- filed charges, on which the two were ordered to stand trial in October 2012.
State Sen. Roderick Wright was convicted Jan. 28 of similar charges, with prosecutors in that case contending that he lived outside the district he was elected to represent. Wright was suspended March 28 by the state Senate and is awaiting sentencing next month.