In a prologue to his second trial, Mayor Roger Hedgecock pleaded innocent Thursday to three additional perjury and conflict of interest charges that arose from testimony in his first trial, which ended Feb. 13 with a hung jury.
After the mayor had entered the pleas and waived his right to a preliminary hearing on the new charges, Municipal Court Judge Frederic L. Link set a Superior Court arraignment on the three charges for March 25 before Judge Barbara Gamer.
During his short appearance before Link, Hedgecock entered innocent pleas to charges that he committed felony perjury when, as a county supervisor, he failed to disclose on his 1981 Statement of Economic Interest a $3,000 check he received from J. David & Co. and a gift of $500 in legal fees, paid by developer Harvey Schuster.
He also pleaded innocent to the misdemeanor charge of conflict of interest for voting on a project proposed by Schuster after the developer paid the fees. Testimony in the first trial revealed that Schuster paid for a financially troubled Hedgecock to confer with a Century City attorney at the same time Schuster hoped to win Hedgecock's approval for a development on county land.
Prosecutors made the additional charges Feb. 20 when they filed an amended complaint against Hedgecock. They hope to consolidate the new charges into the second trial, which will concentrate on the felony conspiracy and perjury charges left over from the first, unresolved case. Michael Pancer, Hedgecock's attorney, told Link he may still oppose the consolidation.
After the hearing, Hedgecock said he still doesn't know if he will continue to retain Pancer for the second trial. Pancer has asked the court to release him from the case, and Hedgecock told reporters Thursday that he's busy "trying to raise money for a new lawyer."
Hedgecock also said he planned to contact two "out of town" attorneys Thursday to see if they would take his case. Thursday's calls, he added, would bring to six the number of attorneys he has asked to take over the complicated case.
He declined to say whether any of the attorneys were reluctant to take his case, or whether he is close to an agreement.
"When I get successful with those discussions, you'll know it," he said.
Hedgecock also said he was leaving for a nine-day vacation Thursday afternoon, and joked that the destination was "not to be revealed under penalty of death."