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Police search home and office of Bell Gardens councilman

Mario Beltran is linked to the investigation of an alleged criminal threat.

June 21, 2007|Andrew Blankstein and Greg Krikorian | Times Staff Writers

Los Angeles police served search warrants Wednesday at the home and City Hall office of Bell Gardens Councilman Mario Beltran in connection with an investigation into alleged criminal threats, authorities said.

The search warrants stem from a February complaint that an unnamed individual was threatened and had a conversation surreptitiously overheard by another party, said Lt. Paul Vernon, commander of the LAPD's Central Division detectives.

Vernon declined to say who made the alleged threat or who was the intended victim but did confirm that the searches were conducted at Beltran's council office and his home on Garfield Avenue.

Beltran is also a legislative aide to state Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello).

A third search warrant was served at a towing company in Southgate, he said.

"Our investigation is not complete," said Vernon, who added that the case was being directed by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Beltran could not be reached for comment, but his attorney, Philip Cohen, said he was first told in February of allegations that Beltran had threatened someone whom the lawyer would not identify.

"I can tell you there was absolutely no threat made by Councilman Beltran," Cohen said late Wednesday. "And the fact that it has taken this long for some kind of investigation to include a search indicates to me there is a much different motive for this than an alleged threat. If they really thought he threatened someone, they would have done this months ago."

Cohen declined to elaborate.

In March, Beltran was convicted of filing a false police report claiming he was robbed a block from a hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

At trial, the prosecutor in the case said that Beltran lied to police because he was embarrassed by the fact that, according to witnesses, he had been drunk at a downtown nightclub and passed out in the hallway of the hotel, which is used by prostitutes.

Beltran is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday and faces a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

His attorney has appealed the conviction and filed a motion this week asking for a new trial.


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