Monday, June 6, 2011
Consultant Enters Plea, Agrees to Testify Against Judge
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
A second campaign consultant charged with offering a financial inducement to a Los Angeles Superior Court candidate not to run against her client has entered a plea of no contest and agreed to testify against Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Harvey Silberman.
Evelyn Jerome Alexander accepted the same agreement that her former partner, Randy Steinberg, entered into in February, state Deputy Attorney General Zee Rodriguez told the MetNews Friday. The pled was entered before Orange Superior Court Judge Richard King May 25.
Alexander and Steinberg each pled to a misdemeanor conspiracy count, with sentence to be determined by the judge following Silberman’s trial, scheduled for July 11 in Los Angeles. The prosecutor, in turn, agreed to dismiss felony charges of solicitation.
King, who is hearing the case as an assigned Los Angeles Superior Court judge, was to sentence Steinberg on June 24. That date was set before the trial was continued from its previous May 23 date, and will have to be reset, likely to sometime in August, Rodriguez said.
The misdemeanor carries a possible one-year jail term, with sentencing set for Sept. 2. Alexander’s attorney, Larry Bakman, was not available Friday for comment.
Steinberg, Silberman, and Alexander were indicted in July 2009 on charges of solicitation to induce a person not to become a candidate for public office and solicitation to offer, accept, or join in the offer or acceptance of a bribe. Both offenses, under Elections Code Sec. 18205 and Penal Code Sec. 653f(a), were charged as felonies.
The Penal Code charges were dismissed last year by King, but Silberman—who cannot sit as a judge while under felony indictment but retains his title, salary, and benefits—remains charged with violating the Elections Code.
The Elections Code section reads:
“A person shall not directly or through any other person advance, pay, solicit, or receive or cause to be advanced, paid, solicited, or received, any money or other valuable consideration to or for the use of any person in order to induce a person not to become or to withdraw as a candidate for public office. Violation of this section shall be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months or two or three years.”
SJA Strategies, the consulting firm operated by Alexander and Steinberg, advised Silberman in the campaign that resulted in his defeating Deputy District Attorney Serena Murillo in June 2008 for an open seat on the court.
Accusations surfaced during that campaign that the consultants had offered to reimburse expenses that Murillo had incurred if she would quit the race before the filing deadline. Those charges were initially investigated by the District Attorney’s Office, which eventually handed the matter off to the state attorney general.
Silberman has insisted that he never offered Murillo anything to quit the race, and that if the consultants did so, it was without his knowledge or approval.
Among the expected witnesses for the prosecution, besides the consultants, is former Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Lori Jones. Jones, who said she was considering hiring SJA in order to run for judge in another race, told the grand jury that she passed along a message from the consultants to Murillo, to the effect that Silberman was willing to pay Murillo’s filing fee if she would run for a different seat.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company