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Compton Mayor's Son Faces Felony Counts for Actions as Deputy D.A.

November 08, 1987|TERRY SPENCER | Times Staff Writer

Walter R. Tucker III, son of Compton Mayor Walter R. Tucker, is facing a felony charge of falsifying evidence in a criminal case while working as a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney.

He also faces a misdemeanor count of lying in court to a judge. A preliminary hearing has been set for Nov. 18 in Los Angeles Municipal Court.

The younger Tucker is not the only member of the mayor's family to face a preliminary hearing this month on felony charges. Martha Tucker, the mayor's wife, is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 24 on seven felony charges filed earlier this year. She is accused of fraud in a real estate deal. Attorney Tucker had been scheduled to handle his mother's defense, but she is now seeking other counsel.

The attorney said either he nor his family would have any comment because there are pending court cases.

Dismissed From Job

Since he was fired from the district attorney's office late last year, Tucker has done some paid political work for his father, including acting as master of ceremonies and coordinator of a February fund-raising dinner. He received $7,000 for the job.

The charges against him stem from an incident in November, 1986, when he was prosecuting five people on drug charges. The district attorney's office charges that Tucker altered a document to show that he had received a set of photographs three weeks later than he actually had. Tucker was dismissed soon after the alleged alteration was discovered.

Gilbert Garcetti, chief deputy to Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner, said that this is the only time in his 19 years with the department that a deputy prosecutor has been charged with misrepresentation.

Because Tucker, 30, was working for the district attorney's office at the time of the alleged crimes, the prosecution was turned over to the state attorney general. The charges were filed late last month.

Faces Up to 4 Years

Deputy Atty. Gen. Charlene Honnaka said the maximum sentence for the falsifying evidence charge is four years in prison. She said, however, that people who have been convicted of this in the past have generally received probation.

Ann Charles, a spokeswoman for the California Bar Assn., said that she could not discuss whether any disciplinary action is pending against Tucker. She said she could only speak in general terms about what the bar does in such cases.

"Generally speaking, an attorney convicted of falsification of evidence could face anything from a two-year suspension to disbarment," Charles said.

As prosecutor, Tucker was required to present to defense attorneys any evidence he was going to use in court as soon as that evidence became known to him.

Tucker, however, did not present the photographs--showing the outside of a house where drug deals were alleged to have taken place--to the defense until the morning of Nov. 5, 1986, the day he introduced them in court, according to trial transcripts.

Confessed to Lying

Under questioning in court by the defense as to when the photos had been taken, Tucker told Judge Kathleen Parker he did not know. Tucker is alleged to have gone the next day to the district attorney's photo lab and altered a photo order issued on Oct. 8 to falsely show the request was made on Oct. 28. On Nov. 7, 1986, Tucker told Judge Parker that after doing some checking, he had discovered the photos had been taken about Nov. 3.

Meanwhile, according to the district attorney, a photo lab employee had reported to her superiors that the request document had been altered. Confronted with the evidence by his supervisor, Civil Service documents say, Tucker confessed to falsifying the document and to lying to the judge.

He was ordered by his superiors to inform Judge Parker of his misrepresentations, which he did. The defendants were later found not guilty.

Tucker was placed on administrative leave from the district attorney's office on Nov. 14, 1986, and was fired on Dec. 22. The Civil Service Commission later dismissed his appeal of the firing.

Decisions Called Unfair

During his Civil Service hearing, Tucker said he altered the document because he believed the judge had made several unfair decisions against the prosecution earlier in the trial and was about to do so again. Because of those decisions, he said, he felt he was losing the case.

Garcetti said he tells new deputy district attorneys Tucker's story as an example of acting overzealously. "I tell them . . . that we are not here to obtain convictions, but to see that justice is done," Garcetti said.

The younger Tucker's preliminary hearing originally was scheduled for last Wednesday. It was postponed after Tucker asked, while acting as his own attorney, that presiding Judge David M. Horowitz remove himself as being prejudicial to his case. The motion was granted and the case will now be heard by Judge Glenette Blackwell.

Tucker had been scheduled to represent his mother at her preliminary hearing last Tuesday on charges of grand theft and forging documents. That hearing was postponed after it was agreed that she should get new counsel.

Martha Tucker, along with her sister Barbara Hall, was arrested in January. She is charged with defrauding Danny Ray Moore, a retired auto mechanic who is paralyzed from the waist down, out of a $45,000 down payment he had made on an apartment building.

Martha Tucker is president of Mattco Financial Inc., which the mayor claimed ownership of in a 1986 financial disclosure statement. There is no indication the mayor, who is a dentist, took an active part in the operation of the firm or played a role in the alleged swindle.

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