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City atty. mum on driver in '04 crash

Delgadillo aides cannot produce an accident report that should have been filed after his work vehicle was damaged.

June 12, 2007|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

A vehicle assigned to Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo was damaged in an accident in 2004, but his aides say they can't find a report that should have been filed in the matter. The form would have identified the driver, location and date and explained the crash, which cost taxpayers $2,120 in repairs.

On Monday, Delgadillo refused to comment about where the accident happened or who had been driving the city-owned GMC Yukon.

However, a source close to the city attorney told of being informed that the car had been backed into a structure in the parking garage of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center when Delgadillo's wife, Michelle, was there for a medical appointment.

Two other sources, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said Delgadillo occasionally has allowed his wife to use the sport utility vehicle.

A Los Angeles Ethics Commission bulletin to employees in 2001 said elected officials could use their city cars for personal as well as official business. But the bulletin said uses not permitted would include "allowing family members to use a city car for personal business, such as a trip to the market to buy groceries."

Delgadillo would not confirm or deny the source's Cedars-Sinai account or say whether his wife had ever used the Yukon or who was driving it at the time of the accident.

"The city attorney will simply not respond to non-sourced City Hall rumors fed to you by disgruntled employees that take aim at his wife or family," said Nick Velasquez, a spokesman for the city attorney, in a statement e-mailed to The Times.

Delgadillo's wife did not return calls for comment or respond to an interview request made through Velasquez.

The Times reported Saturday that Michelle Delgadillo was ticketed for failing to obey a turn-only sign while driving her personal car with a suspended license in 2005.

That news came the same day Delgadillo told a judge that hotel heiress Paris Hilton should serve more time in jail for driving with a suspended license and violating her probation on alcohol-related reckless driving charges.

According to state Department of Motor Vehicle records, Michelle Delgadillo's driver's license was suspended from July 25, 2004, through March 6, 2007, for failure to provide proof of insurance after an accident.

A spokesman for Delgadillo said Friday that Michelle Delgadillo regretted driving with a suspended license but said her case was not in any way comparable to Hilton's.

In September 2005, Michelle Delgadillo was ticketed for going through an intersection from a right-turn-only lane, but she was not cited for driving with a suspended license. Records show that the case was closed when her $186 bail was forfeited Jan. 17, 2006.

The suspension of her license took effect one week before her husband turned the Yukon in to the city garage Aug. 2, 2004, to repair damage from a collision.

At the time of the accident, two documents would typically have been generated whenever a city-owned vehicle was damaged: an accident report and a repair report.

The General Services Department repair report, provided by Delgadillo's office, said city workers fixed the right rear door "as per collision" and listed "Delgadillo" as the operator.

"As requested, this office provided you with all the information from our Civil Liability Division's files on this incident, and in a timely fashion," Velasquez said in a statement. "This information confirms that there was a 2004 incident in which the city attorney's vehicle was dinged. The GSD form I provided to you was submitted, and this minor damage was repaired."

At the time of the accident, standard city procedure called for an "automobile accident report" to be filed with General Services and the city attorney any time a city vehicle was in a collision.

That report is supposed to include the driver's name, the location, date and time of the accident, and the purpose of the trip.

"This written report must be filed with city attorney within 24 hours of accident," the form states at the top in all-capital letters.

However, Velasquez disputed that such a report was actually required.

"This office is not aware of any city law or policy requiring the city attorney to file a Form 88 [the so-called required accident report] in addition to a vehicle repair order," he said in his statement.

General Services Department files contain several such reports for accidents involving employees of the city attorney's office in 2004 but none for the accident involving the Yukon.

Velasquez said officials in his office could not find an accident report on the Yukon crash.

Tony DeClue, assistant general manager of the General Services Department, said it was up to others to enforce the city policy on reporting accidents; his department manages the fleet and fixes the cars. He also said there have been changes since 2004 in the way accidents are reported.

"The vehicles are supposed to be used for city business," DeClue said.

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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