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D.A. searches two homes in probe of state Sen. Roderick Wright

The L.A. County investigation focuses on whether Wright lives in the 25th Senate District, which he represents, or the 26th. State legislators are required to live in the district they represent.

September 22, 2009|Jean Merl and Ari B. Bloomekatz

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has searched two homes in a probe of whether Democratic state Sen. Roderick Wright lives in the district he represents, officials confirmed Monday.

David Demerjian, who heads the D.A.'s Public Integrity Division, told The Times that investigators searched two homes early Wednesday morning, but he would not divulge the addresses. One of the homes is in Wright's 25th Senate District and the other is in the neighboring 26th District.

The searches stemmed from a tip his office received nearly a year ago, Demerjian said. The investigation is continuing, he said.

Wright, 57, reached through a home telephone number Monday, said he would have no comment on the investigation until and unless "there is something being brought forth."

After a bitter primary battle with former Rep. Mervyn Dymally, Wright won the seat in the heavily Democratic district in 2008. Voter records show that he registered at an address in Inglewood, within the 25th District, in March 2007.

Property records indicate that Wright owns the four-plex in Inglewood at which he registered to vote, plus two other residences outside the district, including a Los Angeles home near Baldwin Hills, which was listed on 2008 county assessor records as "owner occupied."

State legislators are required to live in the districts they represent. Although it is not a crime not to do so, a legislator living outside his or her district could be sued civilly and removed from office. Demerjian said his office is looking into whether voter fraud occurred or whether any false documents were filed under penalty of perjury.

Wright was a district administrator for Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) before he was elected to the state Assembly in 1996. Forced to leave the Assembly in 2002 because of term limits, he ran unsuccessfully for the Los Angeles City Council the following year.

The horseshoe-shaped 25th District runs from the coastal cities of the Palos Verdes Peninsula through the harbor area and part of Long Beach as well as Compton, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood and some portions of Los Angeles city and unincorporated areas.

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jean.merl@latimes.com

Times researcher Vicki Gallay contributed to this report.

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