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Privately Buzzing, Publicly Mum on Alatorre

City Hall: Regarding new allegations, colleagues say little on the record. But they worry about city's image and deplore bitter custody dispute.

April 25, 1998|BETH SHUSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Did at least one of these associates help Alatorre buy his home by fabricating financial documents aimed at increasing the councilman's chances of obtaining a mortgage? Some of those allegations were made in court documents, others in interviews and in other records. The FBI is investigating them.

"He may be guilty as hell," said one council member. "We don't know, but let those other agencies handle it. We just don't know what's true and what's not."

The only mention of Alatorre during Friday's council session came from defender-until-the-end Nate Holden, who referred to his colleague when the council was adjourning in memory of deceased constituents and others who recently died.

Holden said the council should take time to remember Alatorre, home recovering from surgery and expected back in a couple weeks.

"I for one am very proud of him and wish him well," Holden said.

The allegations of drug use were made in court documents by Alatorre's former executive secretary, Linda M. Ward. Alatorre aides dismiss Ward's comments as those of a jilted ex-girlfriend who will go to great lengths to discredit the councilman.

"Do you know Linda Ward?" one aide asked another in the hallway behind the council chamber. "I do."

Still other council observers couldn't help but link the latest drug allegations to the recent scandal involving Councilman Mike Hernandez, who last fall admitted drug and alcohol abuse after he was arrested on a felony cocaine possession charge. Hernandez, who was placed in a court-ordered drug diversion program, attends regular recovery meetings.

But even those who discussed Hernandez's drug use said the Alatorre case is different.

"We don't know what will happen here," said one. "There are so many charges and so much going on. This is a mess."

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