Thursday, May 1, 2003
Court of Appeal Affirms Conviction of Candidate for Lying About Residence to Run in South Gate
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A former South Gate City Council candidate was properly convicted of lying about his residence in order to run, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled yesterday.
Justices rejected claims by Richard Mayer that he was merely imitating the conduct of other politicians, and mistakenly believed that he could claim a residence in South Gate for political purposes even though his only connection to the place was that he received mail there and conducted political activities in the building’s carport.
The ruling clears the way for possible revocation of Mayer’s probation on seven counts of perjury, filing a false election document, and soliciting perjury.
Prosecutors claim Mayer violated his five-year probation by accepting a position as a field representative to state Assemblyman Mervyn M. Dymally (D-Compton). It was also recently reported that he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The terms of probation imposed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David S. Wesley preclude Mayer from participating in political activity. Mayer was also required to serve 180 days of electronically monitored house arrest.
Mayer, who served on the Central Basin Municipal Water District, ran for the South Gate council three times—in regular elections in 1998 and 2000 and in a 2000 recall election.
Prosecution evidence showed that Mayer lived in Boyle Heights, and that the South Gate address he listed on nomination forms, a voter registration card and a driver’s license application was that of Willebaldo Arroyo and his wife. Arroyo testified that Mayer never slept in the apartment and kept no belongings there, but had paid him to hold Mayer’s mail and tell anyone who asked that Mayer lived there.
Justice Orville Armstrong, writing yesterday for the Court of Appeal, said Wesley correctly denied Mayer’s request for a “mistake of fact” instruction as to all charges based on the defendant’s stated belief that he thought he could have a political “residence” distinct from the place he actually lived.
That would be a mistake of law, not of fact, Armstrong explained. A mistake of fact would occur, the justice explained, if Mayer honestly believed that the place where he lived was within the city of South Gate.
Wesley did instruct the jury that mistake of fact would be a defense to the three perjury charges, Armstrong noted. In any event, the defense did not explain how mistake of fact could be a defense to the charge Mayer induced Arroyoto perjure himself by signing a declaration stating that Mayer lived in the apartment.
Arroyo said he signed the declaration, filed in connection with a civil proceeding, because Mayer told him to. He said he did not understand what he was signing because his English is poor.
The justices also upheld Wesley’s exclusion of Dymally’s proposed expert testimony. At an Evidence Code Sec. 402 hearing, the onetime lieutenant governor testified that it was his understanding that the meaning of “residence” in the “political arena” may differ from the statutory definition of the term.
That was not a proper subject of expert testimony, Armstrong said, because politicians are not exempt from the statutory definition. Even if expert opinion were proper, the justice said, the trial judge acted within his discretion because Dymally—who testified that he himself had never claimed an address that wasn’t his, and that the only person he knew of who did so was an opponent whom he challenged—would not have helped Mayer’s case.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company