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State Sen. Roderick Wright to stand trial in July

April 23, 2013|By Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times
  • State Sen. Roderick Wright, who was indicted in September 2010, is scheduled to begin his trial in July.
State Sen. Roderick Wright, who was indicted in September 2010, is scheduled… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

Nearly three years after he was indicted on voter fraud and perjury charges, state Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood)  is scheduled to stand trial starting July 15.

The date was set this week by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy, who also presided over the public corruption trial of former Bell elected officials earlier this year.

Wright, who previously served in the state Assembly and was elected last fall to a second term in the Senate, was indicted by a county grand jury on eight felony counts in September 2010. 

Prosecutors allege that Wright lied about his residence when he first ran for the Legislature’s upper house  in 2007, when he reported he had moved to an Inglewood apartment complex he owned inside what was then the 25th District. State legislators are required to live in the districts they represent.

Based on evidence found at the Inglewood site and a home outside the district, which prosecutors allege was his real residence, a criminal grand jury handed down the indictment, which also included five counts of fraudulent voting.

Wright and his attorneys have said he is innocent of all the charges and predicted he will be exonerated at trial.

His attorneys appealed the case and initially persuaded Kennedy to drop two of the counts, but those charges later were reinstated by a higher court. Since then, the case has wound through several pretrial conferences as the judge and one of the attorneys worked to resolve scheduling conflicts.

The  pending criminal case seemed to have little effect on Wright’s election prospects. He won a second term in November, collecting nearly 77% of the vote,  against a little-known, poorly financed Republican candidate in the strongly Democratic district.

It remains unclear whether  Wright could continue to hold his seat in the Legislature if he were to be convicted.  The county district attorney’s office said he could face up to eight years and four months in state prison.

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jean.merl@latimes.com

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