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Holden Says Bribe Was Solicited in Sex Case

Court: Councilman says sheriff's official sought money in matter involving daughter-in-law. Lieutenant calls the claim a 'smoke screen.'

November 11, 1998|RICHARD WINTON and ROBERT J. LOPEZ | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Los Angeles Councilman Nate Holden alleged Tuesday that he and his son, the mayor of Pasadena, were asked for a bribe by a Sheriff's Department official who said the money would make an unlawful sex case against the lawmaker's daughter-in-law "go away."

The councilman said he and his son, Chris Holden, were solicited for an undisclosed sum of money by a lieutenant at a Pasadena restaurant three months ago. If they paid, the councilman said he was told, witnesses would not show up in court to testify against his son's wife.

"We were asked to break the law, for the purpose of having her case go away," the lawmaker said during a news conference at his City Hall office.

The district attorney's office said Tuesday that it is reviewing the matter.

Chris Holden's 35-year-old wife, Michelle, is awaiting trial this month on six counts of unlawful sex with two Pasadena teenagers. She has pleaded not guilty.

Although the councilman declined to identify the sheriff's lieutenant, the man in question, Lt. Ron Williams, was contacted Tuesday by The Times. He denied the allegations, accusing Holden and his son of trying to "set up a smoke screen to divert attention" from the sex case.

"I wouldn't be here if I had done anything [wrong]," said Williams, who was on duty at the Altadena substation. He declined to comment further.

Acting Sheriff Jerry Harper said his office had conducted an investigation into the actions of an unidentified lieutenant and a sergeant who also was at the restaurant. He confirmed that Holden's allegations involved money in exchange for witnesses not showing up in court.

Nate Holden said he could not explain why someone from the Sheriff's Department, which was not involved in the sex case, would take an interest in its outcome.

The sheriff's investigation was turned over last week to the district attorney.

Michelle E. Holden, a mother of four, is charged with six felony counts of unlawful sex with the two teenagers, one of whom was a family baby-sitter. She also faces two misdemeanor charges of annoying and molesting a child under the age of 18.

Chris Holden has previously said the charges are part of an effort to destroy him politically. A veteran Pasadena City Council member, Holden was selected the city's mayor in 1997. The position is a largely ceremonial role that traditionally rotates every two years among council members.

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