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State senator indicted on 8 felony counts

September 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Local State Sen. Rod Wright has been indicted, accused of living outside the district he represents. Wright claims he lives in Inglewood.A five-unit apartment complex on Glenway Drive is where the state senator says he lives. It's his official address. But investigators say that's a lie. They say he actually lives in Baldwin Hills, about five miles away. They say he's lived there since 2000. Formal charges were filed against Wright Thursday.

Wright has been indicted on eight felony counts, including perjury, voter fraud and filing a false declaration of candidacy. He entered a plea of not guilty on Thursday morning in L.A. County Superior Court.

The charges come after a yearlong investigation by the L.A. County District Attorney's Office, which found that Wright was not living in the district he was elected to represent.

Wright's lawyer says his client is innocent, and Wright's colleagues in the state Capitol have come to his defense.

"Sen. Wright is a valued colleague," said State Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). "He's been a civil rights champion for 30 years. He is presumed innocent, and I intend to stand behind him as my colleague and as my friend."

Investigators say Wright listed an apartment complex on the 800 block of Glenway Drive in Inglewood as his primary residence when he was elected to the state senate in 2008.

Wright owns the apartment building, but investigators say he actually lives in Baldwin Hills.

A man who did not want to be identified lives in the apartment complex that Wright owns. He has lived there for three years. He said he had seen Wright "a couple of times here and there." Living there? "Not that I know of, no." Collecting the rent? "Yeah."

This kind of legal action isn't new. Last month, L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon was charged with perjury and voter fraud amid allegations that he does not live in the district he represents.

Wright is due back in court on Oct. 8. If he is convicted of all charges, he will face up to eight years and four months in state prison. He would also never be allowed to hold a public office again.

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