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Officials Trade Barbs Over Harassing Phone Calls

October 27, 1994|JON GARCIA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Saying he is the victim of "small-time political vandalism," Lawndale Mayor Pro Tem Norm Lagerquist has accused Councilman Larry Rudolph of making harassing phone calls to his home.

Rudolph denies making the calls and says that the accusations were made as political retribution.

"No one from my house made those calls," Rudolph said.

Lagerquist says telephone records prove his allegations, but that assertion has also caused controversy.

In a statement to the council Monday night, Lagerquist said he had received eight phone calls between 1 and 3 a.m. beginning Sept. 27. The most recent call was Sunday. Each time, the caller hung up when the phone was answered, he said.

"I would like these calls to stop. My peace of mind is being harmed," Lagerquist said.

After the fourth call, Lagerquist said, he asked Pacific Bell's "annoyance calls" bureau to trace his incoming calls. Lagerquist said a Pacific Bell customer service representative told him that three early-morning calls placed Oct. 3-6 were traced to Rudolph's residence. Lagerquist said that he did not get the operator's name. But sheriff's detectives confirmed the information, he said.

Pacific Bell officials would not comment on Lagerquist's request for tracing, but they said his telephone records, including the incoming calls, have been turned over to the Lennox sheriff's station.

Although Lagerquist said he got his information from a Pacific Bell representative, company officials say it is against their policy to tell a customer any information about a company investigation, including the name, address or phone number of a caller.

"I would be surprised if a customer service representative volunteered the information. . . . We send that information directly to the (sheriff)," said Pacific Bell spokeswoman Linda Bonniksen.

Sheriff's detectives say Lagerquist filed a complaint about the calls Oct. 11 and that they are investigating the matter. Sgt. Jim LeBlanc said that no one in the Sheriff's Department released information about the caller to Lagerquist and did not confirm any information for him.

The allegations are the latest in a series of political barbs traded by Rudolph and Lagerquist, who have been political adversaries since Lagerquist joined the council in 1990.

Lagerquist said the harassing phone calls began the night that he supported ousting Rudolph's wife from the Parks and Recreation Commission. At the Sept. 26 City Council meeting, Lagerquist, along with council members Nancy Marthens and Virginia M. Rhodes, voted against Shirley Rudolph and selected a new member to fill her commission seat. Mayor Harold E. Hofmann and Larry Rudolph supported Rudolph's wife.

Marthens and Rhodes say they also received annoying calls late in the night, but neither reported the incidents to authorities.

Rudolph said he was not upset by the council's decision to replace his wife. He also said that Lagerquist, in making the harassment charge, is trying to get even with him for a past dispute.

Rudolph voted to censure him after Lagerquist wrote a letter on city stationery asking a judge for leniency for an associate who pleaded no contest in a lewd conduct case involving a 12-year-old girl. "I think he's still sore from when he got his hand caught in the cookie jar supporting a child molester, and he's been after me ever since," Rudolph said.

But Lagerquist said he does not hold a grudge.

Sheriff's officials say the investigation should be complete by Tuesday.

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