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Tuesday, July 19, 2005 | Will council offices of Ralph Inzunza and Michael Zucchet remain open to serve districts 2 and 8 after Monday’s conviction?
Although Inzunza and Zucchet are barred from performing any of their elected duties or receiving any compensation or services they would otherwise enjoy, the district offices will remain functional. The mayor’s staff, under the direction of resigned Mayor Dick Murphy’s Chief of Staff Tom Story, will also be available to assist the council office staffs.
Do Inzunza and Zucchet have to step down from office because of Monday’s guilty verdicts?
Inzunza and Zucchet do not forfeit their positions on the City Council by virtue of being convicted, however they are suspended, which means they will not collect pay and will not perform the official duties they were elected to do.
City Attorney Mike Aguirre will hold their posts on the council until they are sentenced Nov. 9 or the jury otherwise upholds their verdict. Appeals by the defendants have no bearing on how long they will be allowed to hold onto their council posts.
The council members interviewed Monday said they would not call for Inzunza or Zucchet’s resignation, but Aguirre did. The city attorney advised the council to not excuse Inzunza or Zucchet for the council meetings they will miss due to suspension.
Under the city charter, if they miss eight straight meetings or 50 percent of the meetings in one calendar month, their seats on council will be vacated even without the council’s approval, Aguirre said. At that point, the city attorney and city clerk will draft a resolution approving an election to fill that void.
When will the councilmen be sentenced and are they facing prison time?
Inzunza, Zucchet and strip club lobbyist Lance Malone are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 9 at 9 a.m. They each face numerous charges that carry lengthy prison sentences. U.S. Attorney Carol Lam didn’t give an indication of the sentence to be sought by the prosecution.
All three men were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of extortion. Inzunza was convicted of nine counts of wire fraud, Zucchet was convicted of five counts of wire fraud and Malone was convicted of 33 counts of wire fraud.
The maximum sentence for conspiracy to commit wire fraud is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. Each extortion conviction carries a maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine of $250,000.
Will there be appeals?
Yes. The attorneys for both councilmen signaled they will appeal the verdicts.
– Voice Staff