This Monday, Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price, a veteran in representing the Ninth District, was in the spotlight for pleading not guilty to numerous grave accusations. The case, seizing the city’s attention, centers on charges of embezzlement, perjury, and conflict of interest. These arise from Price’s alleged involvement in approving projects linked to developers connected with his wife’s consultancy. The notable aspect of this case is his failure to disclose these ties.
In the courtroom, where tensions ran high, Price denied the ten charges that have overshadowed his career. Earlier, Judge Craig Richman of the Los Angeles County Superior Court had dismissed a legal challenge by Price’s defense against these allegations. The defense had argued that the statute of limitations negated the five counts of grand theft by embezzlement. They also maintained that the conflict-of-interest charges were baseless and that the perjury charges didn’t constitute a public offense as per the complaint’s facts.
However, the prosecution, led by Deputy District Attorney Casey Higgins, firmly rebutted these claims. Higgins argued that the defense’s challenge was without legal support and completely meritless. He further asserted that the statute of limitations did not apply, as the prosecution was initiated within four years of the completion of the offenses for five of the contested charges.
The case’s timeline dates back to 2013, with allegations that Price embezzled about $33,800 by having the city pay medical premiums for Del Richardson, who he claimed as his spouse, despite still being married to Lynn Suzette Price. This alleged misuse of city funds spanned until 2017 and has been a big problem in Price’s career, which included tenures in the State Assembly and Senate.
Price, 73, has consistently maintained his innocence, standing firm in the face of these allegations. Following his initial court appearance in July, he expressed gratitude and said, “We are looking forward to engaging with the DA in the coming weeks, and we are grateful that the court has given us time to do so. I want to thank my constituents and the entire city of Los Angeles for the outpouring of support I have received, and I look forward to continuing to do the people’s business.”
“As we said when the charges were brought, we believe that the charges filed by the DA’s office are completely unwarranted and that the facts will bear this out. I have always conducted myself, in and out of the public eye, with integrity and professionalism,” he asserted.
Amidst this controversy, Price made a decisive move, stepping down as council president pro tem and surrendering his committee assignments. This action, communicated through a letter to Council President Paul Krekorian, highlighted the gravity of the situation.
Yet, Price’s commitment to his role as a councilman remained unshaken. He returned to City Hall on August 8 with a business-as-usual demeanor, facing minimal disruption from attendees. However, his return was not without detractors, as some public members openly criticized his continued participation in council activities, most saying he should not be voting at all.
The implications of Price’s conviction are significant. The prosecutor indicated that he could face a range of penalties, from probation to eight to ten years in prison, if found guilty. This case is not an isolated incident in Los Angeles politics.
As the legal process unfolds, Curren Price’s future hangs in the balance. The next key date is March 1, when a hearing will determine whether sufficient evidence exists for a trial.