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Southeast : LEGAL DEFENSE

August 03, 1995

O.J. Simpson and Erik Menendez have them. So why not a Pico Rivera councilwoman?

Councilwoman Helen O'Hara has set up a legal defense fund to fight three misdemeanor charges--battery, petty theft and vandalism--stemming from disputes with her constituents.

The councilwoman hopes to raise $5,000 to $7,000 to fight the charges, which she calls "total fabrications."

Every little bit helps. Besides checks, which O'Hara says are trickling in from supporters, the councilwoman is accepting aluminum cans as donations.

The battery charge stems from a June 5 incident in which O'Hara grabbed a sheaf of papers out of an elderly constituent's hands in council chambers, allegedly wrenching the woman's shoulder and wrist. Then on July 9, prosecutors have charged, O'Hara ripped off a newspaper article that was taped to a table where opponents were gathering signatures to recall the councilwoman.

O'Hara was targeted for recall five months ago and expects to know soon whether enough signatures were collected to force an election. She has pleaded not guilty to all three charges and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Aug. 17 in Whittier Municipal Court.

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