10:13 PM PDT on Thursday, May 26, 2011

By GENE GHIOTTO
The Press-Enterprise

A judge Thursday ordered a businessman to stand trial on perjury and other charges stemming from the failed attempt to recall a Lake Elsinore councilman.

Following a preliminary hearing, Judge Elisabeth Sichel found there was enough evidence to order Michel Knight to return June 9 for arraignment in Superior Court in Riverside.

Knight faces charges of conspiracy, perjury, filing false documents and violating campaign disclosure requirements in what prosecutors said was the filing of false campaign finance disclosure statements.

If convicted, Knight faces up to nine years and eight months in prison.

Chad Firetag, Knight’s attorney, said during Thursday’s hearing that Knight filed a campaign finance disclosure form identifying himself as a major donor to the recall campaign and listing what he had donated.

But prosecutor William Robinson said the state-required disclosure form was filed after authorities searched the homes of Knight and recall committee leader Enelida Caron, Knight’s business and other locations.

“The only reason that was filed was the jig was up,” Robinson said.

Knight and Caron faced trial in connection with the February 2010 recall attempt of former councilman Thomas Buckley. They were accused of trying to conceal Knight’s financial involvement.

Buckley defeated the recall but lost his council seat in the general election.

Caron pleaded guilty Wednesday to one misdemeanor count in an agreement with prosecutors that could lead to the other eight charges against her being dropped.

Caron, who worked for Knight at his Trevi Entertainment Center in Lake Elsinore, then testified against Knight in a bid to link him to the recall and its financing and the decisions to file false campaign finance forms on behalf of the recall committee.

On Thursday, two more former Trevi employees testified that Knight financed the campaign.

Craig Young, a graphic artist at Trevi during the recall effort, testified that he designed fliers, banners and two websites for the recall at the behest of Knight while he was at work.

He also testified Knight paid to have the fliers and banners printed and funded the websites using Knight’s credit card or checks from the Trevi center.

Caron, he testified, had no input into the fliers or banners and minimal input in the design of the websites.

“She at one point sent me an email because I forgot to put contact information on the website,” Young said.

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