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Associated Students On-Campus Representative Joseph Lee, who was also elected as a 2011-12 Representative-at-Large, pled not guilty yesterday to four charges in relation to a recent laptop theft.
Lee, who was arrested on April 27 and incarcerated for five days in Santa Barbara County Jail, is set to appear in court on May 18 — the same day next year’s A.S. elected officials will take office. Lee, a second-year political science major, was detained in connection with a theft that occurred on April 19 at Santa Catalina residence hall and faces charges of felony burglary, unauthorized altering of computer data system, receiving stolen property and grand theft.
The decision to plea not guilty was largely a strategic measure, Lee said.
“It was recommended by my attorney,” Lee said. “It was basically to postpone the preliminary hearing.”
Despite the controversy, Lee said he will continue to serve as a student body representative — starting at today’s 5 p.m. A.S. Legislative Council meeting.
“I will be performing my job for the rest of this quarter,” Lee said. “For this year at least, I will continue to represent the students as best as possible.”
According to Lee, there is no connection between his elected office and the criminal investigation.
“It’s a personal matter,” Lee said. “I believe there’s a boundary between this and my Legislative Council position.”
According to A.S. Legal Code, Legislative council members must “remember that they are elected to the ASUCSB Legislative Council for the sole purpose of serving students and shall during Legislative Council meetings, show the highest degree of respect, regard and decency to their fellow students.”
Internal Vice President Jake Elwood, who oversees A.S. Legislative Council, said the allegations will not affect Lee’s position in the association for the time being.
“At this point, he’s still innocent until he’s convicted of any crime,” Elwood said. “In all likelihood, I won’t personally take any action.”
Elwood, a fourth-year political science major, said Lee’s situation does not reflect upon the integrity of the council as a whole.
“Based on what I’ve heard — which is just speculation — it sounds like he’s one guy who made a mistake,” Elwood said. “As far as my memory proves, the council hasn’t had any legal problems this year.”