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KTLA news anchor Lu Parker will not be charged with theft if she completes diversion program, officials say

Lu Parker, a KTLA news anchor and animal rights activist, was arrested in November on suspicion of petty theft.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

KTLA news anchor Lu Parker will not face criminal charges in connection with the theft of a pair of headphones at Los Angeles International Airport if she successfully completes a diversion program, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office said Friday.

The anchor, whose legal name is Frances Louise Parker, was arrested at the airport in November and booked on suspicion of petty theft after pocketing the headphones during a security screening, police said.

Parker, 48, of West Hollywood, agreed to participate in the city attorney’s Neighborhood Justice Program, a pre-filing diversion program, said Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for City Attorney Mike Feuer.

In such cases, details about participation and the outcome of a case are considered confidential, Mateljan said.

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The diversion program is “a way to avoid going to court, of being convicted or pleading guilty, and of having a criminal record,” according to the city attorney’s office. Participants appear before a panel of community members, where they discuss the alleged crime, why it was committed and the harm it caused.

The panelists then decide the appropriate actions by the accused, such as doing community service, writing an apology letter, paying restitution or taking classes.

The incident involving Parker occurred Nov. 2, when a passenger walking through the Transportation Security Administration screening area in Terminal 6 noticed a personal belonging was missing, said Officer Robert Pedregon, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Airport Police, at the time. (KTLA said in a statement that the situation was the result of a “misunderstanding.”)

When officers arrived at the screening area, the passenger told them what had happened and asked to perform a private person’s arrest, Pedregon said. Such an arrest is usually made when no on-duty officer witnessed the offense.

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Security video showed the incident and a potential suspect, authorities said.

According to KTLA, Parker was going through the security line and noticed that a pair of earbud headphones had been left behind.

“She picked them up intending to return them to the owner whom she had been speaking with while in line to clear TSA,” KTLA said in a statement.

But Parker couldn’t find the owner, so she boarded her flight, according to the station.

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She was removed from a flight and arrested, authorities said. Parker was traveling to visit her father who was ill, according to the news station.

Parker is a former Miss USA, a onetime girlfriend of former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and a well-known animal rights advocate.

hailey.branson@latimes.com

Twitter: @haileybranson

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matt.hamilton@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattHjourno

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