Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board member Chris Kavanagh pleaded not guilty today to five felony counts stemming from allegations that his real home is in Oakland and that he falsely claims he lives in Berkeley in order to hold office and collect city benefits there.
Kavanagh, 49, who’s free on $30,000 bail, was arraigned on charges of perjury, grand theft, voting fraud, registration of an ineligible voter and filing false nominating papers.
Kavanagh, who was dressed in blue jeans and a blue shirt at his brief hearing today, is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Oct. 26 to have a preliminary hearing date set.
He declined to talk to news reporters today. Approached by a television crew outside court before his hearing began, he denied that his name is Chris Kavanagh.
His attorney, James Giller, said Kavanagh plains to remain on the Rent Stabilization Board and he’s confident he can prove that Kavanagh is a Berkeley resident, even though prosecutors allege that his true residence is a cottage on 63rd Street in Oakland.
Kavanagh was first elected to the Berkeley Rent Board in 2002 and was re-elected to a second four-year term last November.
Rent board executive director Jay Kelekian has said he and the board don’t have the authority to remove Kavanagh and could only take such an action if he’s convicted.
During his campaign last year, Kavanagh signed a disclosure form stating that he lived at an apartment at 2709 Dwight Way in Berkeley. Earlier this year, he told the rent board that his mail should be sent to 2707 Webster St. in Berkeley, which is a post office address.
Kelekian said he’s heard that Kavanagh has listed a Bancroft Way address as his residence more recently.