Lake Forest Councilman Files Libel Suit Against Deputy District Attorney

Lake Forest Councilman Adam Nick has filed a libel lawsuit against a deputy district attorney, accusing the prosecutor of telling lies to the media when Nick was charged with stealing campaign signs belonging to a political rival.

Earlier this year, the Orange County District Attorney’s office charged Nick with a misdemeanor for violating a sign theft law he helped create. Deputy District Attorney Jess Rodriguez had alleged that Nick violated the law, that deputies searched Nick’s car and found 10 other signs, and that Nick acknowledged his role in the crime in a letter.

Rodriguez made various statements containing these assertions to media outlets. But according to Nick’s suit, the statements were false and Rodriguez knew it.

Nick’s sign theft charge was ultimately dismissed. In news accounts, Rodriguez portrayed the dismissal as a deal between Nick and the DA’s office to drop the case in exchange for a $1,000 donation to a victims fund and eight hours of community service.

Nick claims this is all hogwash, that he never admitted to any crime and that he made the donation and performed the community service purely as a good faith gesture. He insists that he was moving signs that were illegally posted, and that he would do it all over again.

In an interview with Voice of OC, Nick said Rodriguez was a “rogue officer” who was pursuing fame when he “flatly lied” by telling the media that Nick admitted to a crime. “This is so black and white, the lies he told the press,” he said.

Nick, who has a reputation for making bombastic statements in the council chambers, also described Rodriguez as more dangerous than a murderer or a rapist because, unlike those criminals, Rodriguez can use the powers of the state to go after people.

“He raped me. He raped my reputation with the force of the law behind him,” Nick said. “This man eight hours a day, ten hours a day, is sitting at his desk, and he can press a button and ruin peoples’ lives. To me that’s more dangerous than me getting raped in downtown Los Angeles.”

Rodriguez did not return a phone call seeking comment.

(Click here to read Nick’s lawsuit)

(Click here to read Nick’s formal complaint to the DA’s office.)

Nick’s suit against Rodriguez is the latest in a string of court battles he’s waged in recent years. In 2010, he also sued the city of Lake Forest for granting a liquor license (he claims illegally) to a 7-Eleven across the street from his ampm convenience store.

He lost that round, but in 2012 ran for City Council and won a seat. Since then, he’s had a falling out with his council colleagues and claims to be fighting their corruption. One of them, Mayor Scott Voigts, wore a wire in an operation that failed to catch Nick offering a bribe on tape. Nick said Voigts wore the wire “at the direction of Rodriguez.”

In the past, Nick has acknowledged in interviews that he gave campaign contributions in cash to Voigts that the mayor never reported, and that he also offered to pay a former councilwoman to resign her seat.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

  • TimOdell


  • Jacki Livingston

    Councilman Nick, I have great empathy for your situation. However, as a survivor of rape, I want to slap you stupid for your comments. Clearly you know nothing about rape, or you would not dare to compare your unfortunate situation to the terrifying crime of rape. Even now, nearly thirty years after the attack, I have nightmares. I can be jolted back, just by the scent of a certain cologne, or a song on the radio. I barely escaped with my life, and I never had justice. So, let me give you some advice…are you listening? Unless and until someone traps you in a room, and threatens you with a large knife, and forces you to perform acts, or invades your body, or they threaten you afterwards, saying that it you speak, you will die….until you can say that, sir? You have not been raped. So shut the h up, and don’t you ever say such a thing again, regarding something so stupid as a little political spat.

    Grow up, and then shut up. You are an insult to every person who has suffered from a true crime of violence. You officially win the “Donald Trump I Cannot Believe You Said That” award. Take a bow.

  • Cynthia Ward

    “He raped me. He raped my reputation with the force of the law behind him,” Nick said. “This man eight hours a day, ten hours a day, is sitting at his desk, and he can press a button and ruin peoples’ lives. To me that’s more dangerous than me getting raped in downtown Los Angeles.”

    I don’t know any of the people in this story, and honestly lack any desire to correct that deficit, having read the post. But I especially do not want to EVER meet this Adam Nick character, as anyone ignorant enough to even THINK something like this much less let it come out of his mouth is in need of serious help. This statement is at least as ugly as the Great Teddy Bear scandal of 2013 that cost Matt Cunningham his County Parks seat and some OCTA work and Adam Nick needs to own up for belittling the very real horror of sexual abuse and rape that he here compares to being verbally criticized. HOW DARE YOU, Mr. Nick? You are unfit for public service.

    • Kathleen Tahilramani

      Ms. Ward, you took the words right out of my mouth. I could not believe what I was reading ….verbal confrontation equates to Rape? Wow, such ignorance and insensitivity is hard to fathom.

    • Jacki Livingston

      Well said.

  • LakeForestTruth

    “LFOLDTImer” is actually Adam Nick himself. Interesting that he deflects criticism to everyone else (Mayor, Kardashians, his mental instability or decline of an empire). He is also extremely litigious:

    1. This lawsuit against Orange County District Attorney

    2. Sued Lake Forest and lost every appeal (now a “published decision”) –

    3. Sued by ARCO –

    4. Adam’s signature gather (when he ran for Congress) was indicted –

    Why isn’t he being recalled?

    • LFOldTimer

      “LFOLDTImer” is actually Adam Nick himself”.
      You have no idea how wrong you are. If you knew how wrong you are you would apologize for making such a far-fetched claim that has no basis in reality. If you wanted to say “LFOLDTimer MAY actually be Adam Nick himself”, that would be acceptable because it would not be a definitive statement. But you made an untrue statement. Take more care about what you write.

      • LakeForestTruth

        Sorry Adam – I didn’t mean to out you. How much do you spend each year in legal fees?

  • gazoo

    Looks like the “iron sheik” is up to it again. i say put nick and rodriguez in the ring and wrestle it out. Loser leave town…

  • LFOldTimer

    Lake Forest is a circus government with so many side shows it’s hard to keep pace. When I read that the Mayor wore a wire to try and catch one of his fellow council members dirty I was aghast. I tried to find a similiar report of that happening anywhere else in the nation – ever. I could not. How could there be any semblance of order or equilibrium in the midst of such chaos? It’s almost like following a Kardashian reality show. It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry. I guess just chalk it up to the decline of an empire.

    • UnitedWeStand

      Let’s look at the whole picture…….Many Lake Forest residents ARE fed up with the antics of the current city council members. Just this past year, a controversial issue was on the agenda, the county animal shelter, so many citizens from neighboring cities attended. Many were aghast from the behavior of the city council members and stated they were glad they did not live in Lake Forest!!!! .

      The city became incorporated many years ago so they could have more control, however, it appears the county routinely tells council members what to do. There was a push for a recall of Mayor Voigt, Dwight Robinson and Andrew Hamilton because they would not take action on a serious safety issue in the city. Perhaps the city council should start putting THEIR citizens FIRST.In the last city council meeting, a 5 minute recess was called by the Mayor because a Lake Forest resident went over his 3 min. allotment to speak during public comments

      Then there is council member Gardner who self proclaimed he was elected by the people rather than by endorsements from outsiders. He seems to be the busiest with city business and blog on city business but has been the subject of verbal abuse at the dais by Robinson. Name calling which belittles or puts down another person is a form of verbal abuse.

      As far as Nick is concerned, he is not a “polished” politician and IMO that is the challenge. But I do believe he is passionate and generous and honest but needs to temper himself.

      It seems not a meeting goes by that a council member doesn’t find an opportunity to jab or insult one another in some way. I think the city council needs mediation!!!!!!

      • LakeForestTruth

        You really defend Adam Nick? This guy is crazy and is the real problem in Lake Forest! Here are excerpts from Adam Elmahrek’s previous article:

        1. “When confronted with the various accusations, Nick for the most part confirms they are accurate. However, in almost every instance, he claims to have not realized that his actions were illegal.”

        2. Defended by Councilman Jim Gardner: “Councilman James Gardner blames Nick’s behavior on his Middle-Eastern heritage and a language barrier that leads to Nick making utterances that come off as offensive.”

        ““He’s hot headed, like many [from the Middle East] are, those people have been killing each other for 5,000 years,” Gardner said.”

        3. “Since his initial foray into politics in 2010, Nick has made a string of offers of under-the-table cash and bribes that stretches from his council colleagues to the author of this article.”

        4. “his obsession with winning has manifested itself in cash offers, a run-in with the law and numerous references to violence.”

        5. “According to McCullough, Nick tried to bribe her at least twice — once during a lunch at Sizzler and the other time at a boy scouts meeting. She said Nick offered to match her regular council salary in exchange for her resignation from the council and threatened to “destroy” her if she didn’t take the offer.”

        6. “Councilman Dwight Robinson confirmed that Nick also tried to give him cash. However, he said Nick didn’t offer it again after Robinson explained that it’s illegal for council candidates to accept cash. Robinson said he accepted a check for his council campaign from Nick instead.”

        This is the whole picture and Adam Nick is THE problem!

        • UnitedWeStand

          LFT, no I am not defending him. I gave my opinion of the whole council based on my perception and you can’t argue perception. However, as far as I am concerned, the council needs to start listening to their residents and stop all this infighting and trying to destroy one another…….and I hope NONE of them EVER progress to higher positions in government. It is obvious, as you stated about Robinson accepting a check from Nick, that apparently money supersedes everything. That, LFT, is the BIGGEST problem we have in politics today, not only locally, but nationally!!!!!

          • UnitedWeStand

            And since the Orange County Board of Supervisors seems to run the Lake Forest City Council members, Voigt, Robinson and Hamilton, perhaps you would like to read the Voice’s article on how the Board changed their position once they received “donations” from a corporation………

          • LakeForestTruth

            Saying the OC Supervisors run the LF City Council members is another deflection without any basis in fact. It would be like me saying that Socialists are running you and then posting an article about Socialists – See, the socialists seem to be controlling you! I can ascertain that you already drank the cool-aid on Adam Nick. Will an indictment on Adam Nick change your mind? This is why I don’t like posting on these websites – it invites illogical crazies.

          • UnitedWeStand

            illogical crazies, resorting to name calling are we? I’m out of this discussion. Have a good evening.

          • LakeForestTruth

            Name calling? I think you were way more aggressive and bombastic than me – sometimes the truth hurts. Same to you – good night.

  • kburgoyne

    My read on this is Rodriguez needs to restart charges against Nick since Nick is publicly proclaiming there was never an agreement to dismiss charges.

    It’s just terribly difficult to accept Nick’s claim “he made the donation and performed the community service purely as a good faith gesture” from a man with this type of aggressive and confrontational attitude. I just don’t see somebody with an aggressive and confrontation attitude merrily making a “good faith gesture” which would inconvenience himself like that. Particularly since, even if its as he claims, it would still portrait the appearance of his being guilty.