LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price was charged Tuesday with multiple counts of embezzlement, perjury and conflict of interest, according to the L.A. County District Attorney's Office.
Price faces five counts of embezzlement of government funds, three counts of perjury and two counts of conflict of interest, according to a statement from the DA.
In a letter to Council President Paul Krekorian late Tuesday afternoon, Price announced his decision to step down as council president pro tem, and surrendering all of his committee assignments. However, he did not state he was resigning from the council.
"While I navigate through the judicial system to defend my name against unwarranted charges filed against me, the last thing I want to do is be a distraction to the people's business," the letter said.
Price ended the letter by writing he looks "forward to having the opportunity to continue to be a strong voice for our culturally rich South Central, a part of our city that has long been disenfranchised, overlooked and forgotten."
Krekorian said Tuesday evening he planned to introduce a motion Wednesday to begin the process of suspending Price from his duties on the council.
Price was charged for having a financial interest in projects that he voted on as a council member, and having the city pay nearly $34,000 in medical benefits for his now-wife while he was still married to another woman, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.
Between 2019 and 2021, Price's wife allegedly received payments totaling more than $150,000 from developers before Price voted to approve projects, according to Gascón's statement. He also is accused of failing to list the money his wife received on government disclosure forms.
"This alleged conduct undermines the integrity of our government and erodes the public's trust in our elected officials," Gascón said.
Price's spokesperson, Angelina Valencia-Dumarot, said in a statement:
"We have not seen the charges filed against Councilmember Curren Price. It's highly unusual for charges like this to be brought up against a sitting City Councilmember without any prior notice or discussion.
Curren Price is a longstanding public servant who has given his life to the City of Los Angeles. He looks forward to defending himself once he's had an opportunity to address these charges."
Zach Seidl, spokesperson for L.A. Mayor Karen Bass, issued a statement saying, "The mayor has yet to review the charges filed earlier today but she is saddened by this news."
Price has represented the 9th District, which includes most of South Los Angeles and Exposition Park, since 2013. He previously served in the state Assembly and state Senate.
The charges against Price, 72, are the latest political scandal to rock City Hall.
Former City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas was convicted earlier this year on federal corruption charges in a scheme in which prosecutors said he promised to help steer a multimillion-dollar government contract to USC if his son got a scholarship and a teaching job.
Last year, former City Council President Nury Martinez resigned after being caught on tape making racist comments with two other council members, including current Councilman Kevin de León, and a county labor official discussing the council's redistricting process.
"I have immense respect for Curren Price. He's been a strong colleague on so many issues," Councilwoman Nithya Raman told Eyewitness News. "I'm saddened by the news and looking forward to reading what is in these documents.
"I don't want to say anything beyond that, but I will say as somebody who goes out there every day and is really trying to build trust in the city, and the work of the city during a moment of real crisis, every time there's a news story like this I feel it makes it a little harder for us to go out there and do that, and that's tough."
City News Service and the Associated Press contributed to this report.