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Report on CHP Tickets Probe Goes to Wilson

From a Times Staff Writer

Gov. Pete Wilson is examining the results of an investigation into whether high-ranking officials of the California Highway Patrol intervened in the handling of traffic tickets and a collision involving the daughter of CHP Chief Maurice J. Hannigan, a spokesman said Thursday.

The investigation was started last summer after news accounts of top-level Hannigan assistants stepping in and rewriting the traffic accident report of Maureen Hannigan and allegedly harassing officers who had cited her and her sisters on other occasions.

Gubernatorial spokesman James Lee said Wilson was in the process of reading the report, prepared by aides to Hannigan’s direct superior, Business, Transportation and Housing Secretary Carl Covitz. Lee said he did not know what action the governor would take.

“I would assume he is going to decide fairly soon,” Lee said.

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It was unclear whether the report reached conclusions or made recommendations to Wilson, who is empowered to dismiss department directors such as Hannigan. A law enforcement source said a draft version contained no conclusions.

Hannigan has repeatedly insisted that he has not ordered any intervention in enforcement actions involving his daughter or other family members. On the contrary, he has said he told CHP officers that if members of his family break the law, “pinch them.”

Officers of the CHP’s office in North Sacramento, whose beats include the Hannigan neighborhood, have allegedly been the targets of harassment and intimidation by headquarters officials for citing Maureen Hannigan and two other daughters of the commissioner.

In one instance in 1989, Maureen Hannigan was involved in an accident and identified in the CHP report as the driver mainly at fault. After a second on-site investigation ordered by CHP headquarters, the report was rewritten to list the other driver as being at fault and Hannigan as a contributor to the accident.

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