Ludlow Pleads Guilty to Violating Campaign Law in '03 Council Race

By Patrick McGreevy
Times Staff Writer

March 9, 2006

Former Los Angeles City Councilman Martin Ludlow pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge that he conspired with the head of a school workers union to illegally funnel union funds into his 2003 council campaign.

Under the terms of a plea bargain, Ludlow, when he is sentenced April 21, will shoulder $40,000 in fines and court costs and accept a four-year ban on holding elected office and three years' probation. He has agreed to cooperate with the district attorney's office as it prosecutes Janett Humphries, the former president of Service Employees International Union Local 99.

"This is another step in accepting responsibility for judgment errors I made," Ludlow said outside the courthouse after admitting to conspiring to circumvent the city's $500 limit on campaign contributions and two misdemeanor counts of violating city campaign laws.

Accompanying Ludlow to the hearing before Superior Court Judge David Horwitz was his wife, Kimberly, and an entourage that included a minister and three attorneys.

He also has agreed to plead guilty to one federal felony charge of conspiring to embezzle funds from Local 99 that were used to pay six workers on his campaign and provide him with a cellphone. As part of that deal, he will pay $36,000 in restitution and be banned from serving as a union leader for 13 years. He also has agreed to pay $105,000 in fines to the city Ethics Commission.

Outside the courthouse, Ludlow said he would cooperate with investigators, including the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's inspector general, who has been looking into agency contracting.

"I look forward to getting on with the rest of my life and being a better man as a result of some learning from making mistakes," Ludlow said. "I have been fully cooperating with the authorities, and will do so, and will work my way toward making full restitution, and I apologize to anyone who has been hurt by my actions."

Ludlow, 41, left the City Council last year to become head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, a position he resigned from last month to accept the plea bargain in the criminal case against him.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Max Huntsman said Wednesday that the scheme involving Ludlow cheated the electoral process.

"This kind of practice undermines the democratic process in a variety of subtle ways," Huntsman said.

"It has a very strong impact on an election to be able to break the rules, and they appeared to have been broken in a very calculated way, and there was a cover-up," the prosecutor said.

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