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D.A. Reviewing Donations to Compton Mayor

Eric Perrodin, a county prosecutor, failed to report campaign money from Death Row label.

August 03, 2004|Wendy Thermos | Times Staff Writer

Compton Mayor Eric Perrodin failed to report about $11,000 in contributions from Death Row Records while campaigning for the city's top office three years ago, and has paid a fine of that amount to the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

The case raised questions Monday in the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, where Perrodin has been a prosecutor for 10 years. Perrodin handled part of a criminal case against one of Death Row's leading artists, Nate Dogg, about the same time he received the unreported contributions.

"We're going to pull the file and look at them," said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office. "Even an appearance of a conflict of interest would violate our policies."

Perrodin said he was disappointed that the commission's written findings characterized the matter as a "serious violation" of the law.

He blamed an inexperienced campaign committee for failing to disclose contributions of $3,500 and $7,500 from the record company.

The Fair Political Practices Commission reached an agreement with Perrodin July 16 to settle the case and is expected to formalize the action Thursday.

"It's not serious, not at all," Perrodin said. "There was a misunderstanding of what we needed to do and the time frame in which we needed to do it."

He also denied a connection between his handling of Nate Dogg's criminal case and the campaign money.

"No way I would jeopardize my job for that," Perrodin said. "That guy means nothing to me."

Death Row Records was founded by Marion "Suge" Knight, who served a five-year prison sentence in the mid-1990s for a probation violation stemming from an assault. Knight built Death Row into the nation's top rap label with the help of artists such as Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg, whose real name is Nathaniel Hale.

Robison said Perrodin was one of the prosecutors who handled a case filed against Hale in March 2001.

Court records were not available, but Robison said Hale entered a plea of no contest in August of that year to a weapons violation.

Perrodin said Hale allegedly kidnapped his girlfriend, threatened her with a gun and then set fire to a car. "They got him on the gun count," he said.

By the time of Hale's plea, Perrodin had been transferred off the case, a move he described as routine.

Robison confirmed that Perrodin was no longer on the case when Hale entered his plea.

Perrodin emerged as the front-runner against Omar Bradley in the April 2001 primary and defeated the incumbent mayor two months later in the runoff.

In a bruising campaign, Perrodin portrayed himself as a squeaky-clean reformer and a contrast to Bradley, who was sentenced in May to a three-year prison term for misusing city credit cards and making unauthorized city loans to himself.

Perrodin said an associate of Knight gave him the campaign contributions. "He called and asked me if I needed any money," he said.

"I think it sends a message to the people outside Compton that this is more of the same," said William Kemp, a 30-year resident and political foe of Perrodin. "I think he should step down immediately."

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