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Felon made donation to D.A. hopeful Jackie Lacey

October 27, 2012|Abby Sewell

Los Angeles County district attorney candidate Jackie Lacey's campaign has blasted her opponent, Alan Jackson, for taking campaign contributions from a convicted felon who served prison time for his role in a multimillion-dollar mortgage loan scheme in the late 1990s.

"Jackson cannot just shrug this off and say, 'I didn't know.' The fact is that it is his job to know -- his most important job," the Lacey campaign said in a news release the day The Times reported that Victorino Noval, a generous donor to the Jackson campaign, was a felon.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, November 28, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 3 inches; 103 words Type of Material: Correction
D.A.'s race donor: An article in the Oct. 27 LATExtra section about a felon who contributed to the campaign of then-district attorney candidate Jackie Lacey said that Kip C. Cyprus and a business partner had hired appraisers to artificially inflate the values of properties and had recruited buyers to buy the properties using government-backed loans they obtained using forged documents. In his guilty-plea agreement, Cyprus admitted that he and others working with him had prepared false gift letters for the buyers and signed false certifications on loan documents, but did not admit forging documents or hiring appraisers to artificially inflate the properties' values.

But it turns out Lacey had gotten money from a real estate developer who was convicted on federal charges in a similar scheme.

Kip C. Cyprus, 44, and his wife each contributed $1,500 to Lacey's campaign in September.

Cyprus was arrested in 1999 as part of a widespread crackdown on fraud in Federal Housing Administration-backed loans. He pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and was sentenced to six months' home detention and five years' probation and ordered to pay $675,000 in restitution.

Lacey's campaign consultant Parke Skelton said that Lacey had never met or spoken to Cyprus or his wife and that Cyprus' legal issues did not come up when the campaign vetted the checks, which had been solicited by a supporter the campaign was "confident in."

Skelton said the campaign would immediately return the contributions.

Cyprus said in a telephone interview that he had never met Lacey and had decided to support her because she served as second-in-command to Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who he thought had done a good job in the office. He had previously contributed to other campaigns, including those of L.A. City Council candidate Rudy Martinez and City Atty. Carmen Trutanich -- who ran for district attorney but lost in the primary.

"I'm a prominent businessperson, and I did not make a contribution for any other purpose than the best person to fight crime," Cyprus said. "I've already paid my dues to the public and society, and I'm very active in playing my role in the community."

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development's office of inspector general, Cyprus and a business partner bought properties and hired appraisers to artificially inflate the values. They would then recruit low-income buyers to buy the properties, using government-backed loans that they obtained using forged documents.

Jackson's donor, Victorino Noval, was arrested in 1997 and sentenced in 2003 to 57 months in federal prison for a scheme that also involved government-backed mortgage loans. Noval was ordered to pay more than $25 million in restitution.

Noval contributed $3,000 to the Jackson campaign. His adult sons and girlfriend contributed as well, and one of his sons gave $100,000 to the state Republican Party a day before the party spent more than $78,000 on mailers supporting Jackson. The party said the money was not earmarked.

Noval also posted pictures on Facebook of an event at his home that he described as a fundraiser for Jackson.

The Jackson campaign said the event was not a fundraiser but rather a Cinco de Mayo party Jackson had attended.

The campaign said it was returning the money to Noval.

--

abby.sewell@latimes.com

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