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Prosecutor Is Fired Over Alleged Off-Duty Drug Use

March 28, 1987|PAUL FELDMAN | Times Staff Writer

Ralph Ayala, an eight-year Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, has been fired for allegedly using cocaine while off duty, authorities announced Friday.

In a prepared statement, Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner declared that "the illegal possession or use of drugs by a deputy district attorney cannot be tolerated."

"The kind of responsibility exercised by a prosecutor makes this a firing offense. That's my policy," he said.

Reiner added that Ayala, 35, "by all accounts was a hard-working deputy district attorney."

"That's what makes this all the more tragic," he said.

Ayala, a Westside resident who has worked in the downtown Night Court Division since early 1986, was dismissed after an office investigation prompted by information received in early February from a tipster.

The attorney general's office, which reviewed the results of the investigation, has declined to file felony charges against Ayala. But the city attorney's office still has the case under study for possible misdemeanor prosecution, a spokesman said.

Misdemeanor cases involving first-time offenders are often resolved through enrollment in drug diversion programs rather than convictions.

Ayala's attorney, Michelle Rodenborn, said that Ayala, who earned $61,000 a year, will appeal his dismissal to the county Civil Service Commission.

Several mid-level deputies interviewed Friday reacted to the dismissal with criticism and questions, describing the action as harsh compared to that taken in the ongoing shoplifting case of high-ranking Deputy Dist. Atty. Jeffrey C. Jonas.

Jonas, who supervises 35 felony attorneys in the downtown Criminal Courts Building, was suspended last year without pay for 30 days after he admitted taking ties, socks and perfume from a Glendale department store. Jonas, who has returned to his supervisory post, later pleaded not guilty to the offense and is now on trial in Glendale Municipal Court.

Rodenborn said that "the disparate treatment was brought up at a hearing (with Ayala's supervisors) but they decided to go ahead with their decision anyway."

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