Hilton's prosecutor under fire for double standard
LOS ANGELES - The city prosecutor who condemned Paris Hilton's early release from jail as celebrity favoritism is now under fire for a case of special treatment closer to home -- acknowledging his wife was wanted for arrest for nine years.
The disclosure, first reported by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, is the latest in a mushrooming scandal that has engulfed City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who ran for California attorney general last year but lost.
According to the Times, a warrant for his wife's arrest was issued by a judge in 1998 after she failed to appear in court on charges of driving without insurance on a suspended license in an unregistered car.
Michelle Delgadillo, originally charged under her maiden name, was never detained in the nine intervening years, though the court order for her arrest remained valid until Wednesday.
Hours after the Times story broke, she appeared in court to plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge of driving without a license, and the warrant was canceled.
She was sentenced to 12 months on probation and fined $431, according to a spokesman for Delgadillo's office.
The turn of events was especially embarrassing for Delgadillo because it came two weeks after he publicly chided Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca for releasing Hilton from jail early and placing her under house arrest for unspecified medical problems.
Hilton, the celebrity heiress and star of the reality TV show "The Simple Life," originally was sentenced to 45 days behind bars for driving on a suspended license in violation of her probation in a previous drunken-driving case.
"If law enforcement officials are to enjoy the respect of those we are charged with protecting, we cannot tolerate a two-tiered jail system where the rich and powerful receive special treatment," Delgadillo said at the time.
It was his office that prosecuted Hilton and pressed for a 45-day sentence, which a Times investigation later found was more time than most county inmates serve for similar offenses.
Delgadillo came under increasing fire on Tuesday when, after dodging media inquiries for days, he acknowledged that his wife had been driving his city-owned vehicle on a suspended license when it was damaged in a 2004 accident and later repaired at taxpayer expense.
He also conceded that he drove for more than a year without automobile insurance required of all California drivers and that his wife was uninsured when she left the scene of another 2004 accident involving the couple's personal car.
At a City Hall news conference, Delgadillo called his own behavior a breach of "the public trust." On Wednesday, he and his wife issued statements saying they were "embarrassed" by the latest revelations, and Delgadillo said he had been unaware of his wife's arrest warrant until Wednesday. Reuters