I am not Richard Alatorre!
Richard Alarcon, a rising star in California politics at the time, used those words as a mantra to voters in a campaign a few years back as he sought to distance himself from a politician who was mired in mounting legal and criminal trouble.
It didnt seem to matter to Alarcon that the voters in the legislative district he wanted to represent were unlikely to confuse him with Alatorre, then a Los Angeles City Councilman and regarded by many as the godfather of Latino politics in California.
Alarcons posters and signs — I am not Richard Alatorre! –were cute and clever and brought him a lot of media attention, which he loved. He was a charming, ambitious politician who was smartly insinuating that he was an outsider and not one of the rascals who needed to be thrown out of office.
The downfall of Richard Alarcon
But karma is a bitter pill with no statute of limitations in politics, as Alarcon has come to find out.
This week Alarcons political career hit rock bottom when a California Superior Court judge banned him from ever holding public office again and sentenced him to 120 days in jail, bringing a humiliating end to his life in politics.
No, he was not Richard Alatorre, who for all his troubles two decades ago, never served a day behind bars.
For Alarcon, it was perhaps the steepest falls from grace for any California Latino politician in history. He had served as a state senator, an assemblyman, a City Councilman, and then in the legislature again, and still seeking a council office once more. He was the consummate player of musical chairs in politics.
And he had once been considered the man who would be the San Fernando Valleys long-awaited first Latino congressman, a job that, when it was finally carved out in 2012, was won by Tony Cardenas after Alarcons mounting legal troubles smothered his hopes.
All those great hopes. Were they fluttering through Alarcons mind as he sat in court, appearing much older than his 60 years of age, his face gaunt and looking like he wanted to die?
Voter fraud debacle
Along with his wife, Alarcon was convicted of voter fraud along for not living in the district he represented and lying about it even reportedly boasting about it.
Actually, there were four felony convictions, and Alarcon faced a maximum of six years in state prison, while his wife — Flora Montes de Oca Alarcon, 49 — faced five years and four months.
Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli denied motions by Alarcons lawyers and letters from supporters asking for no jail time, saying there was substantial, credible and reasonable evidence to entirely support the rendered verdict even beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Alarcons say they plan to appeal the decision.
But at this point, its unclear what can be salvaged for Alarcon, his legacy and name in ruins.
And it was all such a silly and stupid way for Alarcon, a former teacher, to go down.
He and his wife had two residences: A virtually dilapidated old house that looked deserted but was in the district, and a much nicer home that was outside the district.
Alarcon claimed they were simply renovating the old house, but there was too much evidence that it was just a sham. Neighbors never saw him at the old house. Utilities at the dilapidated home were hardly touched. An egg carton worker testified that an egg found in a refrigerator in the broken down house was at least a year old.
It begged an obvious question:
If the district he wanted to represent was so beneath him to want to live there, why in the world did Alarcon want to be its councilman?
The job perhaps and a cushy pension.
SEE ALSO: Is the end near for Richard Alarcon?
Despite being convicted and going to jail, Alarcon will continue to receive his $116,000 annual pension.
And they wonder why they call L.A. the city of angels.