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D.A. declines to file charges against West Covina councilman found in Costa Mesa motel room

West Covina Councilman Mike Spence will not face criminal charges in connection to an incident in a Costa Mesa motel in May.
(File )

West Covina Councilman Mike Spence will not face criminal charges related to a May 4 incident in which he was found unconscious in a Costa Mesa motel room, authorities said.

An Orange County district attorney’s office spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that prosecutors made the decision not to file charges in the case in June.

Costa Mesa officers responding to a medical-aid call shortly after midnight at the Holiday Inn Express on Newport Boulevard found two people, one of whom was Spence, in a room, according to Costa Mesa police and 911 audio released in May.

Police spokeswoman Roxi Fyad said at the time that officers found “controlled substance items” at the scene. Authorities did not elaborate.


The woman in the 911 call, who identified herself as Spence’s friend, told dispatchers that she believed he was overdosing on heroin. The woman also said a syringe was in the room.

However, “after a thorough review of the facts and applicable law … the Orange County district attorney’s office was unable to allege violations of health and safety code sections 11550 and 11364, or personal possession against Mike Spence,” said district attorney spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden.

Spence, 51, said Friday that he felt he had been discriminated against as an addict when the incident was made public. He added that he’s “glad they’re not criminalizing medical calls.”

Spence said it was inappropriate for Costa Mesa Police Chief Rob Sharpnack to update West Covina officials about the incident and the status of the investigation, which he said eventually led to his ouster as mayor.


“I’m having a hard time understanding why the Costa Mesa police chief called West Covina to tell them all about my possible medical issues,” Spence said. “I’m not sure why this medical call has been politicized.”

At the time of the incident, Spence was West Covina’s mayor, a largely ceremonial role he assumed in late 2017. Spence announced in May that he would step down as mayor June 1, but City Council members voted to make his resignation immediate. Spence remains in his seat on the council.

Spence has spoken openly about his issues with alcohol and drugs the past several years.

He pleaded guilty in 2016 to a misdemeanor DUI charge stemming from a crash in June that put him in a hospital with serious injuries. Authorities said he had methamphetamine in his system when his rental car slammed into a utility pole.

He was sentenced in December 2016 to three years’ probation and was ordered to complete a three-month alcohol and drug education program, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records.

Twitter: @HannahFryTCN



1:15 p.m. July 16: This article was updated with a statement from the Orange County district attorney’s office.

This article was originally published at 11:45 a.m. July 13.