Thursday, October 30, 2008

Candidate for AC Transit board facing perjury charges

A two-time losing candidate for the AC Transit board is in trouble in his third attempt because prosecutors say he lives outside the political district he's running Nov. 4 to represent.

James Muhammad has been charged with felony perjury. He is accused of living outside Ward 2 — which includes Emervyille, Oakland and Piedmont — where he is challenging incumbent Greg Harper, an Emeryville attorney who has served on the transit board since 2000.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office determined that Muhammad lives in Richmond, outside Ward 2, said Jeff Stark, a senior deputy district attorney.

As a result, prosecutors filed six felony charges against Muhammad, three for perjury and three for violation of election codes.

Muhammad has run a nearly invisible campaign, not appearing at key candidate events and not being available to news reporters by phone or mail.

Stark said his office initiated the investigation in response to a complaint by Harper, but there wasn't enough time for prosecutors to reach their conclusions before the ballot was printed.

"Once the ballots are printed, there is nothing that can be done," Stark said.

If Muhammad were to pull off an upset victory, he could not hold office if he was convicted of lying about his residency, Stark said.

When Muhammad ran and lost four years ago, he sought one of two AC Transit at-large seats, which are open to candidates from anywhere within Advertisementthe transit district, which includes Richmond.

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