COMPTON — Claiming to be the fallen victim of a continuing assault on black politicians, Compton Community College Trustee Carl E. Robinson expressed confidence this week that voters will return him to office on Nov. 5 even though he still faces trial on a charge of bribery.
"I want to make the statement that I am innocent of the charges," the 50-year-old Robinson said during a press conference on Monday. "I am 100% (innocent). I will be vindicated if it goes to trial."
After keeping mostly silent on the allegation since his arrest last spring, Robinson said he decided to speak out now because he fears that challenger James E. Carter will raise the issue in an attempt to sway voters.
"The voters are not fools," Robinson said. "They know that black politicians are on assault by any means available to get them out of office. That's the trend now."
When asked to identify who was waging the alleged assault, Robinson replied that it was "the society that we live in, the system that we are under."
Running a Third Time
Robinson's campaign opponent--a 61-year-old retired Los Angeles County Parks Department employee who is making his third attempt to unseat Robinson--has raised the bribery charge at various campaign forums. Carter contends that Robinson should have resigned his post immediately upon his arrest "for the college's sake."
"Compton Community College has already had declining enrollment and reduced funding and morale is bad," Carter said this week. "The thing that he has been alleged as doing hasn't helped the college at all."
Robinson, a two-time Carson City Council candidate and 24-year U.S. Postal Service employee now seeking disability retirement, was arrested in Wilmington March 21.
A short time before, he had allegedly solicited and accepted a $500 bribe from a West Covina accountant who had previously won a college contract that Robinson voted to approve. The accountant, Rolland Boceta, allegedly helped investigators videotape and record the meeting as he passed the cash to Robinson, who for two years has been president of the college board of trustees.
Robinson contends that the money was merely a legal contribution to his reelection campaign. "I was offered a campaign contribution by a person who had donated to me previously," Robinson said, "and I went to accept it not knowing what he had and what he was going to do and how he was going to do it, because I trusted him and because he had previously legally donated to me."
He said he believes that Boceta had "a specific reason" to raise the bribery accusation against him. Robinson declined to elaborate.
Offers to Drop Charges
The case is scheduled for trial in Los Angeles Superior Court on Dec. 17. But Robinson said prosecutors have already twice offered to drop the charges in exchange for his cooperation. Both offers were transmitted through former defense attorney Dudley W. Gray II, who represented Robinson until recently.
(Robinson said he ran out of money to keep the attorney on retainer. So he has begun to represent himself, although he is receiving legal guidance from another Los Angeles lawyer whom he declined to identify.)
Robinson said Deputy Dist. Atty. Thomas Gray once offered to halt the prosecution if the trustee either agreed to not seek reelection or became a "friendly servant"--informant--to assist the prosecutor in other criminal investigations.
"Those offers to me I just couldn't accept under no terms," said Robinson. "I don't deal with that kind of (informant) thing."
Prosecutor Gray declined to respond to Robinson's claim that offers were made to drop the case.