If Convicted, What Would Happen to Fagen’s Seat?

Governor could remove him from council, charter says.

Long Beach City Councilman Michael Fagen.
Long Beach City Councilman Michael Fagen.
Story by Jeff Lipton.

As jurors continue to deliberate the fate of Councilman Michael Fagen on Tuesday, the city will have to decide what will happen to his council seat if he is convicted.

Fagen has been accused of illegally collecting more than $15,000 in unemployment benefits from January to September 2010 while serving on the council. The jury has been in deliberations since last Tuesday.

According to the City Charter, the governor can remove a council member in Long Beach and the vacancy may be filled by the majority of the council.

If Fagen is found guilty, the councilman may decide to step down, but if he does not, the council can petition the governor to remove him, according to Denis Kelly, a Long Beach lawyer and former City Council president.

“I’m not so sure he’s going to get convicted,” Kelly said. “But if he is, it doesn’t look good for the City Council to have a sitting felon.

“He could either resign and say, ‘I’m done,’ or he could appeal it and say, ‘They’re wrong and I’m staying,’” Kelly said.

He said in any case, the Democrats will probably act quickly to remove him and replace him. Since Fagen’s term expires in November, the Democrats will then have another incumbent to run for election at that time.

“The Democratic Party would probably petition the governor to remove him,” Kelly said. “They would want to put a brand-new fresh face in his seat and then this person will run as an incumbent in the November election.”

Another option, Kelly said, would be for Fagen to remain on the council and place his fate in the hands of the voters in November.

“It takes the concept of letting the electorate choose, and in that case the electorate would resolve the problem,” he explained. “The electorate would then take care of it.”

Michael Zapson, chairman of the Long Beach Democratic Party, said he would not speculate on what would happen until the jury reaches a verdict.

“The only thing I could say is that if there were a vacancy, the majority of the council would probably appoint someone new,” Zapson said. “There are so many different possibilities that I don’t want to speculate on what could happen. He’s innocent until proven guilty.”

He said he was amazed how long it is taking for the jury to come to a decision. The jury started deliberations the afternoon of Jan. 29, after Fagen’s attorney, Marc Gann of Mineola, and prosecutor Marshall Trager made summations.

“It’s crazy,” said Zapson, who is also a lawyer. “Murder trials don’t go on this long.”

Kelly said that if Fagen is convicted and he is removed from office, it will feel like rare ground. He said he could not recall another case in recent history in which a Long Beach council member has been removed from office.

Fagen told Patch last week that he was the first elected official on record who went before a criminal case over a Department of Labor dispute. Fagen was indicted last February on charges of third-degree grand larceny, petty larceny and 38 counts of offering a false instrument for filing. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.
Jack February 05, 2013 at 08:41 AM
We had a former city councilman a couple of years ago who was convicted of a felony that was forced to resign because he had to go to jail. Remember him?
Hamburger February 05, 2013 at 10:06 AM
it is written that "God shall striketh down all those who fornicateth"
Mike0427 February 05, 2013 at 12:40 PM
It would make things interesting if the rumor is true. But we all know everything is done on the "level" here in Long Beach
Hamburger February 05, 2013 at 01:13 PM
bring it on Fagen - spill it all on the record!
Nancy Mc. February 05, 2013 at 01:18 PM
“The only thing I could say is that if there were a vacancy, the majority of the council would probably appoint someone new,” Zapson said. What a joke. It should say, "If Fagen is convicted and resigns or it removed, Zapson will will tell his pathetic puppets (mandel, torres, and adelson) to appoint another one of his faithful democratic good freinds to the city council so he can stregthen his stranglehold on this city!"
Enough already February 05, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Hamburger February 05, 2013 at 04:09 PM
wow - so nothing on the rest of them then
Enough already February 05, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Awesome, I think you should get help on your obsession with mr fagen.
Cara Gold February 05, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Hey bobby i find your comment interesting about "the hold on the city". hmmm the republicans ran this city like a monarchy for all those years. Intimidating people, stealing and corruption. At least the current city council members, barring fagan, have morals and values that are inline with the city! Everything is transparent. Not so in the last administration.
Hamburger February 05, 2013 at 04:41 PM
not seeing any tweets or other reporting on this - please provide link
Dougie Goodguy February 05, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Cara- if you think for one minute that this administration is any better than previous ones, your're living in fantasy world. You say this administration is transparent? Are you serious? You need to do your homework. Only two weeks ago this administration adopted a new policy that bars residents from asking them any questions in public. Is that transparent? What does my comment about this administration have anything to do with the bunch that was thrown out over a year ago? No one is talking about the previous council except you? What does this administration have to do with anything? Its been over a year since this bunch took over. They have a record which can be scrutinized and based on the things they said they would do and what they have done, they stink. Did you read Henessey's blog which clearly outlined the promises these people made while they were candidates and what they have done. That all speaks for itself, and he backs everything he says up with proof. Do yourself a favor and read it. Bottom line they all stink but you die hard supportes need to stop comparing these guys to anyone; they have a record now and they need to be held accountable just like the last administration. Thats the only comparioson anyone should be making a year one group left and the others took office.
H February 05, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Check it out. https://twitter.com/pxwhittle This is the Newsday reporter assigned to the Fagen trial. Its on his Twitter.
Dougie Goodguy February 05, 2013 at 05:36 PM
oh, and Cara- if the previous administration did anythng illegal don't you think Democratic DA Rice would have prosecuted them? There is your proof. Thus, while the previous bunch in city hall may have been really bad and maybe they took the city down a bad road, they weren't doing anything illegal. The mere fact they were booted out of office says enough. So leave the past alone and stand up for whats right. Look at this bunch for what they are, not for what they want you to think they are. Open you eyes.
Enough already February 05, 2013 at 05:58 PM
Dream on awesome. Go have another drink at swingbellys and fantasize that mr fagen hit on you.
Hamburger February 05, 2013 at 07:20 PM
That's hot
Tideline February 05, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Is there any proof that he victimized women ? Or is this just more feminist smearing on the internet.
Cara Gold February 05, 2013 at 10:38 PM
bobby - oh you must be one of hennessy's misguided followers, or are you hennessy under one of your many names. As for your comment about no questions at council meetings, maybe you just have a listening problem but even at tonight's meeting it was stated that quick questions would be taken and anything else could be answered at the end of the meeting. So next time you attend a meeting, maybe put on your listening cap and get the information correct. As for the last administration, they got off easy b/c the city was in such financial turmoil that the new administration focused on getting the city and its residents back on track instead of building a case against them. Which can still be done b/c there is a long paper trail to support all of the fraud and disloyalty to the residents of this great city. Moody's downgraded the city's bond rating b/c of the lies. Since you clearly align yourself with the thieves of the last administration there is no love lost without your support.
Enough already February 05, 2013 at 11:31 PM
Your a delusional drunken nutjob awesome. Everyone knows it.
Enough already February 05, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Poor you mr awesome Get a life
delete me February 05, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Ned Schneebly February 07, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Cara, instead of addressing the current administration's failures, you claim the past administration was "intimidating people, stealing and corruption." Adn that "there is a long paper trail to support all of the fraud and disloyalty to the residents of this great city" left by "the thieves of the last administration." Please offer some examples of what your are talking about and some evidence to support your allegations.
Ned Schneebly February 07, 2013 at 03:22 PM
Oh and by the way Cara, where are the finacials to support the claims of the City's financial crisis put forth by this administration. They should have had the auditors report montha ago. Could it be that it does not support what the Dems have been claiming?
Hamburger February 07, 2013 at 03:23 PM
yes - out with it already - the people demand to know


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »