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Alarcon child endangerment case isn't felony status, D.A. says

L.A. County prosecutors send case back to L.A. city attorney for possible misdemeanor prosecution. The daughter of city commissioner Andrea Alarcon was found alone at City Hall late at night.

December 21, 2012|By Andrew Blankstein and David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
  • A report from the D.A.'s Family Violence Unit said Andrea Alarcon left her 11-year-old daughter unattended for three hours on Nov. 16, the night of a gala at City Hall.
A report from the D.A.'s Family Violence Unit said Andrea Alarcon… (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office concluded Thursday that the child endangerment investigation involving city commissioner Andrea Alarcon does not rise to the level of felony charges and sent it to the city attorney's office for possible misdemeanor prosecution.

Michael Gargiulo, head deputy of the district attorney's Family Violence Unit, said in a two-page report that Alarcon left her 11-year-old daughter unattended for three hours on Nov. 16, the night of a gala at City Hall. Because the girl was found by security officers within 45 minutes, she was not in circumstances that would have caused "great bodily harm" — conditions that could have made Alarcon, who is president of the Board of Public Works, the subject of a felony prosecution, he wrote.

"This matter is more appropriately filed" as a misdemeanor child endangerment case, "which does not require that the circumstances be likely to produce great bodily injury or death," Gargiulo wrote. A spokeswoman for Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey would not discuss the matter further.

The LAPD initially referred its investigation into Alarcon to City Atty. Carmen Trutanich on Nov. 19. At that time, Trutanich referred the matter to the district attorney's office on the grounds that Alarcon is a client of the city attorney and that her case could pose a potential conflict of interest.

William Carter, Trutanich's chief deputy, said his office would "more than likely" refer it to state Atty. Gen, Kamala Harris.

Alarcon, an appointee of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, was a block from City Hall with two adults when she was approached by her daughter, the district attorney's report states. Alarcon, 33, instructed her daughter to go back to City Hall and wait for her — and told her she was "walking two individuals to their car and would be back in 10 minutes," Gargiulo wrote.

The girl returned to City Hall. But Alarcon was not located until after 1 a.m. at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Little Tokyo, the report said. Alarcon "appeared intoxicated" when she arrived at the Los Angeles Police Department's Central Division to get her daughter, Gargiulo wrote. Law enforcement sources previously have told The Times that Alarcon did not show up until about 2 a.m.

Alarcon did not respond to a request for comment.

The LAPD initially referred its investigation into Alarcon to City Atty. Carmen Trutanich on Nov. 19. At that time, Trutanich referred the matter to the district attorney's office on the grounds that Alarcon is a client of the city attorney and that her case could pose a potential conflict of interest.

Alarcon, who earns $130,000 annually in her City Hall position, went on a leave of absence last month, saying she was seeking professional treatment. She is the daughter of Councilman Richard Alarcon, who is being prosecuted by Lacey's office on charges of perjury and voter fraud.

Andrea Alarcon is also facing a misdemeanor child endangerment charge in a San Bernardino County DUI case that occurred last year. Her daughter was in the car Dec. 30, 2011, when Alarcon was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving by the California Highway Patrol near Running Springs.

In that case, prosecutors recently offered Alarcon a deal that would require her to plead guilty to drunk driving and child endangerment — which would result in probation, a fine, a mandatory DUI class and a 52-week program for child abusers but no jail time. Prosecutors said Alarcon had a 0.19% blood-alcohol level on the day of her arrest. The legal limit is 0.08%.

Alarcon's attorney, Michael Scafiddi, told The Times two weeks ago that he may challenge that evidence. He had no comment on the report issued Thursday.

That report offered few additional details on the Alarcon investigation. Gargiulo wrote that Alarcon's daughter could be seen on City Hall security cameras after she walked back to City Hall the night of the Nov. 16 party.

Forty minutes later, City Hall security officers asked the girl what she was doing there so late at night. "The child told officers she was the daughter of Ms. Alarcon and was looking for her," Gargiulo wrote.

Security officers contacted the LAPD, which in turn called the Department of Children and Family Services, according to the report.

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

david.zahniser@latimes.com

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