SOUTH GATE — A South Gate councilman, who was placed on probation this week after pleading no contest to charges of contributing to the delinquency of two teen-age girls, has refused to say whether he will seek reelection.
Councilman Odell L. Snavely said he has made a decision, but would not reveal what he had decided. "The decision (on election plans) was made a long time ago. And whatever it was, it had nothing to do with yesterday's action," Snavely said.
Snavely, 71, who has been on the five-member council since 1979, is up for reelection April 10. Misdemeanor charges do not prevent an elected official from holding office, said City Attorney Bruce Boogaard. "It would have to be a felony conviction and has to relate to a constitutional violation, such as treason," Boogaard said.
A Municipal Court commissioner Tuesday placed Snavely on two years' probation, fined him $500, and ordered him not to associate with children under the age of 14 unless other "responsible adults" are present.
Huntington Park Municipal Court Commissioner J. Francis Spelman imposed the sentence after rejecting Snavely's effort to withdraw his no-contest plea to charges that he harbored two teen-age girls at his toy store last February when he knew they should have been in school.
Snavely had pleaded no contest last February, but attempted to enter a not-guilty plea after learning that the district attorney's office would recommend that the councilman serve a jail sentence. Snavely's attorney, Walter Urban, argued in court Tuesday that his client was not aware when he made the no-contest plea that it carried a possible jail sentence.
Kenneth Freeman, deputy district attorney, had recommended that Snavely serve a year in jail and be placed on probation for five years.
The charges followed a six-month investigation by the Sheriff's Department after two South Gate Junior High School girls, 13 and 14, alleged that Snavely touched them on the breasts while they were working at his business.
Snavely has denied that he touched the girls, whom he paid to help clean up his store during school hours. Snavely said the girls fabricated the accusations after he threatened to report them unless they returned jewelry that had been stolen at the store.
Freeman said there was not enough evidence to file molestation charges.
Sentencing had been postponed several times. The case was delayed at one point after Snavely switched attorneys at one point.