Friday, July 26, 2002
Arraignment of South Gate Treasurer Albert Robles Delayed
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Arraignment was delayed by another month yesterday for South Gate political figure Albert Robles, who is accused of making threats against other public officials and of possessing illegal weapons.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Knupp set an Aug. 28 hearing in Norwalk to allow Robles to file objections to a second set of charging documents filed earlier this week. Prosecutors labeled the move a delay tactic.
Another judge ruled June 10 that Robles, South Gate’s city treasurer and deputy city manager, must stand trial for making threats against state Sen. Marta Escutia, D-Norwalk, Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh, D-Cudahy, and others.
But he has not yet been arraigned. Robles demurred to the first information filed against him, causing prosecutors to file a second—to which Robles’ lawyers said yesterday they would also demur. Attorney Thomas Brown declined to state a basis for a second demurrer.
Knupp also denied a request by prosecutors to have Robles barred from South Gate police headquarters but kept intact an order that he keep away from three people who work in the building who say he has threatened them.
Deputy City Attorney Susan Chasworth said Robles should have been arraigned more than a month ago but instead has managed to create “two full months of a complete waste.”
Robles’ first demurrer was based on objections to the form that the District Attorney’s Office has used for 25 years to file informations in routine cases, Chasworth said. Prosecutors amended the form to meet Robles’ objections but have no idea why he is planning to demur again, Chasworth said.
“He’s just making the statement, ‘I’m going to demur to this,’” Chasworth told the MetNews. “Most ethical attorneys would not bring frivolous motions like this.”
Robles is the central figure in an increasingly tense political fight in the city of 100,000 people south of downtown Los Angeles.
A number of South Gate residents charge that Robles calls the shots for three people who make up the majority of the City Council. Since Robles was arrested in April, the council hired him to the deputy city manager post at a salary of more than $100,000.
Robles and the three council members are targets of a recall attempt, but that effort has been tied up in court as the parties battle over the meaning of an Elections Code section on requirements for the typeface in the recall documents. Appellate arguments on the recall are scheduled for Tuesday in Div. Eight of this district’s Court of Appeal.
Deputy District Attorney Terry Bork noted that Judge Dennis Aichroth last month issued a protective order to keep Robles away from several people who live or work in South Gate. Since then, Bork told Knupp, Robles has obtained a key to the police department building where three of the protected people work and has entered the building even though he has no supervisory authority there.
“He came over to intimidate, puff himself out, to show he was in charge,” Bork said.
But Brown, Robles’ lawyer, said his client goes to the police building every other day to meet with the new police chief and other top officials on budget and other matters.
He denied that Robles had a key to the building.
If the three people who are beneficiaries of the protective order do not want to be there when Robles comes, Brown said, “they can just leave.”
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company