Supervisor Leticia Perez was nowhere to be seen Tuesday after criminal charges were announced against her by District Attorney Lisa Green.
“As a supervisor of the Board of Supervisors of Kern County Supervisor Perez participated in making or attempting to use her official position to influence a governmental decision in which she knew or had reason to know she had a financial interest,” said DA Green.
That first count specifically relates to Perez’s October vote to allow the marijuana industry in Kern’s unincorporated parts.
While green would not go into detail, a 17 News investigation in February showed Perez’s husband Fernando Jara was actively consulting and lobbying for marijuana interests in Kern.
A probable cause declaration from the DA’s office obtained by 17 News asserted Jara was receiving financial profit for his work within Kern on marijuana.
The second count says Perez failed to disclose investments in the lead up to the marijuana vote.
The forms in question are Economic Interest Forms. In Perez’s 2017 form, Perez did not include her husband’s consulting firm as an asset–something she did include in 2018.
The 2018 disclosure says Jara’s political consulting business made between $10,000 and $100,000.
“Their case is based upon unreliable, unsubstantiated… statements which the defense is prepared to thoroughly discredit,” said Criminal Defense Attorney H.A. Sala, representing Perez who was absent at a press conference.
“Supervisor Perez has unlawfully been singled out, and subjected to disparate and discriminatory treatment,” said Sala, saying Perez is innocent.
“The evidence is what led us to these charges, nothing to do with political persecution,” said Green earlier in the day.
Are the charges grounds for Perez to step down?
“The law does not require her to step down…I think that the decision whether to step down if she’s convicted or at any time, completely lies in the purview of Supervisor Perez,” said Green.
Sala emphatically stated Perez will not step down.
Supervisor Perez is expected to be arraigned Wednesday morning at 8:30 at the Kern County courthouse.
If convicted of the charges, she could conceivably face up to a year of jail time and a temporary ban on running for office.
17 News has followed this story throughout. Below, you can view previous coverage of the accusations and claims levied against Supervisor Leticia Perez: