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Overseer of L.A. neighborhood councils resigns after porn raid

Albert Abrams, appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to head the panel, resigns after investigators seize a computer and other evidence from his Tarzana home. He says a tumor caused 'behaviors that were completely out of character.'

August 05, 2011|By David Zahniser and Ari Bloomekatz, Los Angeles Times

An appointee of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa assigned to oversee dozens of neighborhood councils resigned after FBI agents raided his home looking for evidence that he or others downloaded child pornography.

Last Friday, investigators took a computer and other evidence from the Tarzana home of Albert Abrams, who until this week had been president of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners, a seven-member panel of mayoral appointees.

Abrams, 63, submitted his resignation Wednesday and said he did not know whether he was a target of the investigation. Asked about the search warrant, Abrams said he had surgery earlier this year to address a tumor on his spine. That growth, he said, ultimately affected his brain and caused "behaviors that were completely out of character."

Asked if those behaviors included the downloading of child pornography, he responded: "That's a legal question. You'd have to talk to my attorney."

In a separate interview with CBS2, Abrams said a "split personality" caused him to go by the name Boywonderusa — the account that the FBI contends was used to download pornographic images of children.

No one has been arrested or charged and the investigation is continuing, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

Abrams, who owns a public relations consulting firm, has been a mayoral appointee on the neighborhood council panel since 2008. He worked on city ballot measures in Agoura Hills, Westlake Village and Walnut Creek. He said he did not have "a single blemish" on his public record.

According to an affidavit filed in court, FBI agents went to Abrams' home in search of "any records, documents, applications or materials … that identify any minor visually depicted while engaging in sexually explicit conduct." The affidavit said that agents had probable cause to believe that at least one computer at Abrams' home had as many as 150 images and files featuring child pornography.

The agent who filed the affidavit also said he had reason to believe that either Abrams or another person at the Tarzana home had been collecting such images.

Villaraigosa said Thursday he was appalled by the news and said Abrams told him he was "sorry for everything that has happened." The mayor also said Abrams' explanation wasn't something he had heard before as "a reason for this type of thing."

david.zahniser@latimes.com

ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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