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Wife of Delgadillo has arrest warrant

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo’s wife has an outstanding warrant for her arrest for failing to appear in court nearly nine years ago on charges of driving without insurance, with a suspended license and in an unregistered car, court records and officials confirmed Tuesday.

In addition, documents obtained by The Times show that in the last three years the Delgadillos were chronically late in paying fines for at least five parking tickets.

One violation for parking in a red zone in December 2006 was not paid until The Times inquired about the tickets last month. By then, the $70 infraction had become a $174 fine with penalties.

A spokesman for Delgadillo said Michelle Delgadillo was responsible for all the parking tickets and the delinquent payments.

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Michelle Delgadillo’s scofflaw status was yet another embarrassing development for the city’s top prosecutor, who Monday disclosed that he had periodically let his wife drive his city-owned vehicle on a suspended license for personal errands.

In 2004, she had an accident while driving her husband’s city-assigned GMC Yukon, which was repaired at taxpayer expense.

After ducking the issue for days, Delgadillo, who presides over the nation’s third-largest municipal law office, held a news conference Monday to say that he was reimbursing the city for the $1,222 repair. He also acknowledged that he did not realize that he himself had driven as an uninsured motorist for about a year, while his wife had driven without insurance for more than two years.

Delgadillo told reporters at his news conference that he was sorry about the situation involving his wife and acknowledged that he should have stepped forward immediately with information about the accident. He also apologized for his “lapse in personal insurance coverage.”

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In a statement released by Delgadillo’s office Tuesday, Michelle Delgadillo, 36, who once was an aide to former City Councilman Joel Wachs, said she was “very embarrassed to find myself in this situation today.”

She said she was working to resolve the warrant issue “as quickly as possible.”

“I will do whatever the court instructs me to do. I apologize for any embarrassment this has caused my husband and family,” she said. “It is completely my mistake.”

Delgadillo also released a statement about the bench warrant still pending from his wife’s traffic violations, which occurred in Santa Monica.

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“I was unaware that there was any outstanding warrant,” he said. “As soon as I learned about this today, I immediately urged my wife to remedy the situation, and she is working to resolve this. My wife is embarrassed about this, and I am embarrassed as well.”

According to documents obtained by The Times, Michelle Delgadillo was cited by a California Highway Patrol officer on Aug. 1, 1998, in Santa Monica for allegedly driving with an expired Montana driver’s license. The offense occurred two weeks before she married Delgadillo. The ticket was written under her maiden name, Namen.

The citation also said that the tan BMW 325 she was driving had expired registration tags and that she had no proof of insurance. The Santa Monica city attorney’s office filed a three-count criminal case against her.

When Michelle Delgadillo did not appear in court a month later for her arraignment, the judge in the case issued a $2,000 bench warrant, records show. That warrant remains active, according to officials with the Santa Monica city attorney’s office and court records reviewed by The Times.

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Under that warrant, Michelle Delgadillo is subject to arrest. Because of jail overcrowding in Los Angeles County, it is not uncommon for police to give defendants a citation to appear in court rather than arrest them, particularly if the offense is relatively minor, experts said.

After the 1998 citation, Michelle Delgadillo applied for, and received, a California driver’s license. That license was suspended in July 2004 when she failed to provide proof of insurance at the scene of an accident earlier that same year.

Delgadillo’s staff Monday confirmed that she did not have insurance at the time. Her license was not renewed until earlier this year, yet for nearly three years she continued to drive the family’s SUV and, at times, her husband’s city-owned Yukon.

Shortly after her license was suspended in 2004, Michelle Delgadillo was involved in the accident with her husband’s Yukon. She damaged the vehicle when she backed into a pole in a parking lot near her doctor’s office.

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California Department of Motor Vehicle records also show that she was cited in 2005 for failing to obey a right-turn-only sign. She was not cited for driving with a suspended license, although it remains unclear why.

Though an existing warrant should have barred Michelle Delgadillo from receiving a California driver’s license when she first applied, a DMV official said, there were a number of ways it could have slipped notice.

Drivers sometimes do not provide accurate or complete information on an application, and records from other states sometimes are inaccessible, the official said.

A spokesman for Delgadillo’s office also said the warrant from Santa Monica misspelled her first name as “Michele,” an error that may have caused it to escape the DMV’s attention.

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The DMV official said he did not know how Michelle Delgadillo was able to receive her California license and later renew it.

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matt.lait@latimes.com

Times staff writers Steve Hymon and Patrick McGreevy contributed to this report.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

A rocky road

Traffic troubles incurred by Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and wife Michelle:

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1998 -- Two weeks before marrying Delgadillo, Michelle Namen is ticketed in Santa Monica for driving with a suspended license, in an unregistered vehicle with Montana plates, without proof of insurance. When she fails to appear in court, a judge issues a warrant for her arrest. The warrant remains active.

2004 -- Early in the year, Michelle Delgadillo is accused of “driving without proof of insurance and causing an accident” while driving the family’s Ford Expedition in Los Angeles, records show.

2004 -- In the summer, Michelle Delgadillo dents the rear of her husband’s city-owned GMC Yukon while backing up in the parking lot at her doctor’s office. Her license had been suspended the same week. The city covers the $1,222 in repairs.

2005 -- Michelle Delgadillo is ticketed for failing to obey a right-turn-only sign and pays a $186 fine. She is not cited for driving with a suspended license. The suspension expires in March 2007.

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2007 -- Monday afternoon, the city attorney admits after days of dodging questions that his wife had damaged his city vehicle. He writes a personal check to cover the city’s expense and apologizes for breaching the “public trust.”

2007 -- Monday evening, the city attorney admits that he also had driven the family vehicle without state-required auto insurance from June 2005 to July 2006.

Sources: Times reports, state and city records


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