LOS ANGELES (AP) – A judge on Wednesday postponed the sentencing of California state Sen. Rod Wright for lying about his legal residence, as his defense completes paperwork seeking a new trial.
Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy granted the defense request for the continuance and said it would be the last. She rescheduled sentencing for Sept. 12.
Wright’s was the first of three unrelated cases against state lawmakers that cast a shadow over the Legislature.
Prosecutors want Wright to serve six months in jail or six months of home confinement. They also recommend that he serve 1,000 hours of community service and never again be allowed to hold public office.
Wright’s attorney, Winston Kevin McKesson, said Tuesday that his client did nothing intentionally wrong and deserves a new trial. If the conviction is upheld, he said Wright should be sentenced to nothing more than informal probation.
Prosecutors said in a court filing last month that Wright’s actions “can only worsen the already jaded public perception of politicians.”
That image has taken several blows this year. After Wright’s conviction in January, federal prosecutors filed corruption charges against two other Democratic state senators, Ron Calderon of Montebello and Leland Yee of San Francisco.
The Senate suspended all three with pay in March, ending Democrats’ two-thirds majority in the 40-member chamber – a supermajority that had allowed them to act without any support from Republicans.
Wright was convicted of perjury, voter fraud and filing a false statement of candidacy for lying about his legal residence in Los Angeles County. He had said he moved into an Inglewood property he owned so he could run in 2008 to represent the 25th Senate District, but jurors found that Wright actually lived outside the district.
The charges against Wright carry a maximum sentence of more than eight years in prison. Prosecutors said that with anything less than a half-year of confinement, “the perception will be that politicians are treated differently, due to connections or money, in the justice system.”
But McKesson, Wright’s attorney, said his client believed he was acting within the law and that jurors were confused between Wright’s legal residence within the district and his home outside it.
Associated Press writer Don Thompson in Sacramento contributed to this story.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.