Former councilman pleads guilty to felony conflict-of-interest

Just saw this on the wire:

Former Councilman Pleads Guilty to Conflict-of-Interest Charge

LOS ANGELES (CNS)- Former Hawthorne City Councilman Louis Velez
pleaded guilty today to a felony conflict-of-interest charge involving a developer
whose wife owned a home he was renting.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert P. ONeill immediately sentenced Velez, 34,
to one year probation and a $1,000 fine.

The plea, which was entered as Velez was awaiting trial, bars him from being an
elected official in California for life, according to Deputy District Attorney Max
Huntsman.

Velez, who did not seek re-election last November, was a Hawthorne
councilman when he was indicted last July 23.

The indictment alleged that Velez had become financially interested in a contract
made by him in his official capacity, and by a body and board of which the defendant
was a member.

Velez voted twice on an eminent domain project involving the developer — first in
January 2005 after he had been given the keys to the property and again in March 2005
while renting the home, according to Huntsman.

 One of Velezs attorneys, Joseph Vodnoy, said his client had no criminal intent and
entered the guilty plea because he thought it was in his best interests to do
so.
Its unfortunate that a young guy trying to do the right thing by the city winds up
with a felony, he said.