Webster Guillory

Official didn’t personally witness signatures being collected, though he signed the form saying he did, according to the DA.

BY SEAN EMERY and TONY SAAVEDRA / STAFF WRITERS
Published: Sept. 9, 2014 Updated: 10:05 p.m.

Prosecutors charged Orange County Assessor Webster J. Guillory on Tuesday with filing false nomination papers, alleging that during his re-election bid, he claimed to have personally collected signatures on petitions that were circulated by an associate.

Guillory, who has served as county assessor since 1998, is facing three felony counts of filing false nomination papers, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Newport Beach resident Guillory, 70, who had previously planned to retire after his current term before having a last-minute change of heart, is gearing up for a November run-off with challenger Claude Parrish. In the primary election, he received 46.4 percent of the vote to Parrish’s 44.2 percent.

As an elected official, Guillory can’t be removed from office unless convicted. He is the first county elected official to be criminally charged since Sheriff Mike Carona in 2007.

Guillory’s attorney, John Barnett, said his client simply made a paperwork mistake.

“He did not file a document which he knew to be inaccurate,” Barnett said. “He is a longtime public official who did not commit any crime and I think the evidence will show that.”

Guillory could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Supervisor John Moorlach, who called for Carona to resign, said things are different for Guillory than Carona.

“I see an honest guy who has been asked by a lot of influential people in this county to rerun,” Moorlach said. “This is just kind of a silly mistake with a form. I’m not excusing it, I just don’t have all the facts.”

According to prosecutors, the charges stem from the nomination papers and the 20 valid signatures from registered voters that candidates are required to file to the county Registrar of Voters to qualify for the ballot.

The form includes an affidavit at the end of each page of signatures, which the person who collected the signatures is required to sign to indicate that they witnessed the signatures being written. The candidate does not necessarily have to be the one who collects the signatures, but whoever the person is who does collect them, they must also be the one who signs each affidavit.

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