SACRAMENTO — A state senator convicted of eight felonies this week introduced a bill that would have allowed those in similar circumstances to have their crimes reduced to misdemeanors.
Democratic Sen. Roderick Wright apologized Friday after he was rebuked by a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a fellow Democrat, and said he will not try to advance the bill through committee, effectively killing it.
"Wrong senator, wrong time," Steinberg spokesman Rhys Williams said.
Wright faces more than eight years behind bars after a Los Angeles County jury found him guilty Tuesday of voter fraud and perjury.
On Thursday, he introduced SB 929, which would allow those convicted of non-violent felonies to ask a judge to reduce the offenses to misdemeanors under certain circumstances, including: if their sentence does not include state prison; if the offense was not serious, violent or a sexual; if they had a clean record for the last five years; and if they can show they have been rehabilitated.
It was not immediately clear if such legislation could one day apply to Wright himself, Williams said. Wright's convictions and potential sentence would appear to qualify him.
Wright was convicted of fraud after professing to have moved into an Inglewood property he owned so he could run in 2008 to represent the 25th Senate District. Jurors found that Wright actually lived outside the district.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office could not say Friday whether his convictions for perjury, false declaration of candidacy and fraudulent voting would qualify him to serve a potential sentence in county jail instead of state prison under the state's 2011 criminal justice realignment, or whether probation is a possibility.
Williams said Steinberg, D-Sacramento, would recommend that the bill be killed in the Senate Rules Committee.
Wright said he would not attempt to move the bill to the Senate floor. In a statement issued through his office, he noted that he has long sought to allow for rehabilitated criminals to expunge their criminal records.
"However, I recognize that public perception under present circumstances casts a different light on my involvement with this issue," he said in the statement. "I sincerely regret any embarrassment or confusion this has caused the State Senate."
Steinberg said Thursday that Wright will give up his committee chairmanships but will not be expelled or asked to resign from the Senate until after a formal conviction is entered by a judge. That could come as soon as his sentencing March 12, although Wright's lawyer has said he will appeal.
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