Orange County Superior Court Judge Gassia Apkarian on Tuesday dismissed a felony count of filing false nomination papers against ex-county Assessor Webster J. Guillory and reduced two other felony counts to misdemeanors.
The dismissed count came at the request of Deputy District Attorney Brock Zimmon based on new evidence. Zimmon had previously accused Guillory of signing nomination papers that had been circulated by another assessor's office employee, when candidates by law are supposed to distribute and sign the documents themselves.
But at Tuesday's hearing Apkarian learned that papers signed by assessor's office employee Shaw Linn were actually circulated by another employee, Mike Hannah, who intended to run to succeed Guillory, who planned to resign.
When Hannah backed out of the race, Guillory decided to quickly gather signatures to get on the ballot. The veteran politician was defeated in the November general election by Claude Parrish, a former chairman of the state Board of Equalization. The filing of felony counts against the incumbent no doubt hurt his bid for re-election.
"The evidence is very clear Mr. Guillory did not file a false document," his attorney, John Barnett, told City News Service after the hearing. "He had no reason to file a false document, a document he knew to be inaccurate or false."
Another hearing was set for April 27 on the other counts.