LOS ANGELES (AP) — California state Sen. Roderick Wright was convicted Tuesday in a perjury and voter fraud case — a verdict that could bar him from holding elected office for the rest of his life.
Defense attorney Winston Kevin McKesson said he would file an appeal and the future of his client's political career was unclear.
A Superior Court jury returned the verdict against the Democrat who has served in the state Assembly and Senate for more than a decade.
Prosecutors said Wright committed fraud when he made it appear that he had moved into an Inglewood property he owned in order to run in 2008 to represent the 25th Senate District. They said Wright actually lived outside the district.
Wright was charged with eight counts, including perjury, false declaration of candidacy, and fraudulent voting. He could face a maximum of eight years and four months in prison when he is sentenced on March 12.
Wright currently represents the 35th Senate District due to redistricting.
"I certainly take the verdict very seriously," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. He said he will consult with his fellow senators, the Legislature's lawyers and Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, chairman of the Senate Committee on Legislative Ethics, before deciding on any possible next steps.
Legislative leaders could consider stripping Wright of his office and barring him from voting before he is formally sentenced. Steinberg said it is up to the Senate, not the court, to decide if Wright should be removed from office.
"It's a punch to the gut," Steinberg said of Wright's conviction. "We hold Sen. Wright in high regard."
Wright served in the Assembly from 1996 to 2002 and has been in the Senate since 2008. He is set to be termed out of office in 2016.
Testimony at Wright's trial focused on his living arrangements. He claimed that he lived in one unit of a five-unit complex in Inglewood and used the same address when he registered to vote in 2007.
Prosecutors said he actually lived in a single-family home in the swankier community of Baldwin Hills which was in the 26th District.
McKesson said Wright met the requirements for establishing a "domicile" in Inglewood.
Wright's conviction came as the state Senate waits to see if federal charges will be filed against Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, who was removed from his committee assignments after a leaked FBI affidavit alleged that Calderon accepted money to influence legislation.
Calderon has not been charged with any crime and denies wrongdoing.
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