Criminal charges filed

The investigation by the Malibu city attorney’s office of the alleged violations of the Malibu Municipal Code campaign finance ordinance, ongoing since the April 1998 election, took a new and radical change last week.

Remy O’Neill and the Road Worriers, a political action committee, were charged by Malibu city prosecutors with five criminal misdemeanor counts of violating the Malibu campaign ordinance. The violations charged relate primarily to the defendants’ alleged collection of sums in excess of the $100-per-person limit allowed by the ordinance. The misdemeanor complaint does not specify who issued those checks.

Attorneys for the defendants filed a legal challenge to the complaint– a demurrer — arguing, among many things, that the law is unconstitutional; that the statute of limitations has run making it too late to file the charges; and claiming numerous other legal defects in the complaint.

The matter has been set for hearing June 7 in the Malibu courtroom of Judge Lawrence Mira.

According to the Malibu Municipal Code: “any person … who knowingly or wilfully violates any provision of this title is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction is punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000 or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

O’Neill lives in Malibu, has been active in city politics for several years and was the campaign manager for Councilwoman Carolyn Van Horn in her successful run for re-election in 1996. She was a leader in the formation of Road Worriers, a political action committee whose stated legal purpose was to defeat Jeff Jennings and elect Tom Hasse. The attorneys representing her are Brad Hertz, who also represents Gil Segel in the action against him by the state Fair Political Practices Committee, and Attorney Bruce Brown. Attorney Paul Fix of the firm of Dapeer, Rosenblit and Litvak, of Huntington Park, are the contract prosecutors for the city of Malibu. The investigation was conducted by Malibu City Attorney Christi Hogin.

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Attorney Brad Hertz and council members Van Horn and Hasse were called Tuesday morning, and messages were left on their answering machines offering them an opportunity to comment personally or to fax The Malibu Times their comments on the criminal filing for this article. Hertz’s written response on behalf of O’Neill and the Road Worriers is printed in its entirety. (See “And the response . . . .”) Hasse responded with a faxed statement: “There is a legal process in place to handle such allegations and I remain confident that the legal process will produce a just result. It will remain my policy, albeit not one required by law, to continue to recuse myself and to withhold comment on this matter until that time . . . .”

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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