Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Consultant Pleads No Contest in Judicial Candidate Bribery Case
Steinberg Accepts Misdemeanor Conviction, Agrees to Testify Against Silberman
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
A campaign consultant charged with offering a financial inducement to a Los Angeles Superior Court candidate not to run against his client has entered a plea of no contest and agreed to testify against his co-defendants, including Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Harvey Silberman.
Randy Steinberg, who had been charged with a felony, entered the plea Monday to a misdemeanor conspiracy count, his attorney Steve Meister said yesterday.
Orange Superior Court Judge Richard King accepted the plea and is to sentence Steinberg on June 24, if the trial of Silberman and consultant Evelyn Jerome Alexander is completed by that date.
The misdemeanor carries a possible one-year jail sentence for Steinberg, but Meister said the case should not result in incarceration. “There are a lot of mitigating circumstances here,” he said.
Steinberg “accepted responsibility for a one-time mistake,” the attorney told the MetNews. While the law in the area is somewhat unclear, he said, “in the final analysis, it was appropriate” for Steinberg to accept a plea offer and “move to the next stage of his career and his life.”
He described his client, a graduate of Tulane Law School who has worked in campaign management and public relations for about 15 years, and also served in then-Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan’s Office of Economic Opportunity, as “a person of integrity.”
Attorneys for Silberman and Alexander did not return MetNews phone calls yesterday.
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—and Alexander each remain charged with violating the Elections Code. They currently face a possible trial in May.
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.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company