Son of Beverly Hills councilman impersonated father's political opponent online, authorities say

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BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. -- FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2020: Popular shopping destination Rodeo Drive is all but deserted as retail shops are shuttered in Beverly Hills, Calif., on March 20, 2020. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Adam Friedman, 32, is accused of setting up a fake social media account for Sharona Nazarian, who was running against his father for the Beverly Hills City Council. Above, Rodeo Drive in 2020. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The son of a Beverly Hills city councilman has been charged with felony identity theft, accused of creating a fake social media account impersonating his father’s opponent in the June municipal election, L.A. County prosecutors said Thursday.

Adam Friedman, 32, is accused of setting up a fake online account in April for Sharona Nazarian, who was running for a seat on the Beverly Hills City Council. Friedman’s father, Councilman Lester Friedman, was seeking reelection and Nazarian was a leading competitor. Both eventually secured two of the three seats that were up for election this year.

Prosecutors charged Adam Friedman with one felony count of identity theft and one misdemeanor count of internet/electronic impersonation. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The fake account, according to sources, was an Instagram page titled "Sharona4Gascon" that included statements supportive of L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón, who is facing a recall drive and whose criminal justice reform policies have drawn heavy criticism from law enforcement groups.

After learning of the account, Nazarian filed a police report with the Beverly Hills Police Department. The account was later removed from Instagram.

Last month, investigators with the district attorney's office executed a search warrant on Lester Friedman's Beverly Hills home as part of an investigation into the fake account.

Lester Friedman told the Beverly Hills Courier that his home was one of eight locations listed on warrants as part of the investigation and that the warrant did not name and was not directed at him. Asked by a Courier reporter whether he had a connection to the fake account, the councilman said, "Absolutely not."

The district attorney's office said its investigation is ongoing.

Lester Friedman, a workers' compensation attorney, has served on the City Council since 2017. During his first term, he also served a year as mayor, and he and his wife have lived in the city for four decades.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.