Andrea Alarcon, shown in the Board of Public Works conference room in 2011,… (Ricardo DeAratanha, Los…)
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's top appointee on the Board of Public Works will take a leave of absence following a Times report that she is the subject of a child endangerment investigation, a mayoral aide said Thursday.
The mayor said he did not think that Andrea Alarcon, 33, should resign from her post, which pays $130,000 per year. He would not discuss the police case, which was opened after Alarcon's 11-year-old daughter was found unattended Friday night at City Hall. Alarcon did not turn up until about 2 a.m., after her daughter had been taken to the LAPD's Central Division station, according to sources familiar with the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
"In order for me to be the best parent possible, I have decided to seek professional help and treatment," Alarcon said in a statement, adding that her daughter is her "top priority and nothing could be more important" than her well-being.
Neither Villaraigosa nor Alarcon specified what type of help she is seeking; Alarcon asked the media to respect her family's privacy "during this difficult time."
Mayoral spokesman Peter Sanders said in an email that Alarcon's leave will last for an unspecified period and be paid from her sick time. No charges have been filed and Alarcon has not been arrested.
Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, said an investigation regarding Alarcon had been referred to her office but that prosecutors had requested more evidence before they determine whether to file charges.
As he scooped candied yams onto paper plates for Thanksgiving dinner at the Midnight Mission, Villaraigosa said, "My only comment is that both she and her daughter [and] her dad are in my prayers."
Alarcon is the daughter of longtime Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon, who is being prosecuted by Cooley's office in a case that involves whether the councilman lied about living in a house in Panorama City.
Andrea Alarcon is already facing one charge related to child endangerment in a separate case in San Bernardino County. Last December, the California Highway Patrol arrested her on suspicion of drunk driving. Authorities allege that she showed "signs of intoxication" while in her car with a child. She was later charged with drunk driving and committing cruelty to a child by endangering her health, according to the complaint.
Alarcon pleaded not guilty. Michael Scafiddi, Alarcon's attorney, said he expects some of those charges to be dismissed "in the near future."