A former Santa Ana councilman pleaded guilty Thursday to lying about where he lived when running for office in the city’s fourth ward last year and was ordered to pay more than $578,000 to reimburse the city for a special election to replace him.
Roman Reyna pleaded guilty to a felony count of perjury and a misdemeanor count of filing fraudulent nomination papers, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Reyna will have to pay $578,053.16 as part of the plea deal and cannot ever run for elected office again.
In a year, if he successfully completes terms of probation, Reyna will be able to get the felony charge dismissed and will be sentenced only on the misdemeanor, prosecutors said.
Reyna resigned from the council on March 1 to avoid a civil trial related to the election fraud. He was previously on the council representing the fifth ward from 2012 to 2016 before he was defeated in a re-election bid.
Reyna’s opponent in last year’s election, Phil Bacerra, is among six candidates running in the November special election to replace Reyna.
Reyna’s attorney, Steve Baric, said it was the first election Santa Ana held in which the council candidates were required to live in the districts they represented so there was some confusion on his part.
“I think there was some unfamiliarity with running in districts and I think he made some mistakes and he’s taking responsibility for that,” Baric said.
“Mr. Reyna had previously represented his city and his community with great distinction, and he’s sorry and regrets his actions and at this point wants to move on with his life,” Baric said. “Mr. Reyna came forward and was quite ready to accept responsibility.”
Reyna is still active in the community as a volunteer, Baric said.
“He’s doing a lot of community service, which is at the heart and soul of who he is to begin with,” Baric said.