Wednesday, October 5, 2016
C.A. Affirms Perjury Conviction of Ex-Buena Park Politico
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Fourth District Court of Appeal yesterday affirmed the convictions of a former City Council member and mayor of Buena Park for perjury in connection with obtaining a second driver’s license, in a different name, in order to evade his child support obligations.
The opinion, by Justice David A. Thompson of Div. Three, rejects the contention by Sangjin Miller Oh that Orange Superior Court Judge John S. Adams improperly denied four of his motions.
In response to questions that arose in connection with his 2010 City Council campaign—Oh had entered conflicting information on various election papers—the Office of Orange County District Attorney uncovered the fact that the real estate developer had two driver’s licenses. Oh was summoned to the office of the Department of Motor Vehicles where he admitted that he had one license in his true name, showing a date of birth of January 1964 and a social security number beginning with “602,” and a later-issued license bearing the name of “Robert S. Oh, a birth date of December 1957, and a social security number starting with “612.”
He explained that the name on the second license was that used in his Catholic confirmation, that he used his lunar birthday, and his objective was to avoid paying child support.
It later emerged that he had used the second license in registering four motor vehicles.
Oh was convicted in 2014 of five counts of perjury and sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation, a condition of which was that he devote 200 hours to community service. He resigned from office upon being convicted.
On appeal, he contended that Adams erred in failing to suppress evidence that stemmed from the receipt of documents provided to a District Attorney’s Office investigator pursuant to an informal request, in violation of privacy rules, by the City Clerk’s Office. The documents included papers from the California Public Employees Retirement System, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, and the Social Security Administration, as well as medical information.
Another investigator obtained reports from a Social Security Administration investigator.
None of these documents was admitted into evidence, but Oh argued that pursuant to the Fourth Amendment, secondary evidence derived from the documents had to be excluded.
Thompson responded that under the United States Supreme Court’s 1976 holding in United States v. Miller, the issue was whether Oh had a reasonable expectation of privacy in connection with the documents. He wrote:
“In this case, defendant voluntarily provided biographical information to several government agencies to obtain services, or as an employee entitled to benefits. In the process, he completed forms promulgated by the agencies for the collection of data pertinent to the agencies’ business. These were not confidential communications, nor defendant’s private papers. Thus, while defendant may have a civil remedy available against these agencies, he had no legitimate expectation of privacy in their records.”
‘Outrageous Government Conduct’
Oh asserted that the improper gathering of private information amounted to “outrageous government conduct” and that Adams erred in failing to order dismissal based on that factor. Thompson rejected the contention, saying:
“To prevail on a claim of outrageous government conduct, the defendant must show the state engaged in conduct that shocks the conscience or is repugnant to the universal sense of justice….However, few cases rise to this level.”
Thompson said that two investigators “did not follow statutory procedures to obtain defendant’s personal information,” but that “their method was far from brutal or offensive.” He added:
“They merely requested documents from other government agencies, and these agencies voluntarily complied. This is a far cry from the kind of conduct previously condemned by the United States Supreme Court.”
Failure to Disclose
Using his second driver’s license in registering cars, Oh argued, did not constitute perjury. Thompson wrote:
“Defendant argues none of the vehicle registration forms required him to disclose the fact of his false driver’s license. While technically correct, this is a distinction without a difference. The DMV vehicle registration form requires the affiant to state all the information provided was ‘true and correct.’ Here, defendant admitted he knowingly provided false information to obtain vehicle registration. This is perjury.
Thompson also dismissed a statute-of-limitations contention, based on the DMV’s supposed “constructive knowledge” since 2004 that Oh had two licenses. He said that the evidence showed that “[a]pparently, there simply was no mechanism in place to detect individuals who, like defendant, apply for more than one driver’s license using different names, addresses, and social security numbers.”
The case, which was not certified for publication, is People v. Oh, G051291.
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