James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/26/2011 10:34:23 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – Valerie Pope- Ludlam, who was the first black woman elected to the City Council and later pleaded guilty to taking bribes from a developer, has died. She was 78.

Pope-Ludlam, a longtime Westside activist and former president of the nonprofit West Side Community Development Corporation, died Sunday, three days after Norris P. Gregory Jr., the city’s first black councilman.

“It’s a sad time in the 6th Ward,” said Councilman Rikke Van Johnson, who represents the ward. “We’ve lost two giants.”

Pope-Ludlam came to San Bernardino in 1962. Three years later, as a member of the Community League of Mothers, she led an anti-segregation boycott of the local school district.

She took office as a councilwoman in June 1987 and represented the 6th Ward until March 1996. After her time in office, Pope-Ludlam went through several years of legal trouble..

In 2000, she pleaded guilty to forging signatures as part of a campaign to recall Betty Dean Anderson, who replaced her on the council.

In 2003, Pope-Ludlam was charged by the state Attorney General’s Office with 31 counts of offering or receiving bribes. In 2004, she accepted a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to one count of bribing a public official.

The charges all stemmed from bribes Pope-Ludlam and others admitted taking from developer Al Steward.

But Anderson said Pope-Ludlam did plenty of good during and before her time on the council.

“She was a very good council person,” Anderson said. “She initiated a lot of programs for minority people in this community. She did a lot of good work for the city of San Bernardino.”

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