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 aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek