Sheriff Mirkarimi Pleads Guilty to False Imprisonment

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

Tagged: , ,

Published on March 12, 2012 with 6 Comments

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi with his wife Eliana Lopez and their son, Theo. File photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

Editor’s Note: This report has been updated with an official statement from Mayor Ed Lee.

March 12, 2012

Embattled San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi pled guilty today to one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment in connection with an alleged domestic violence incident involving his wife, Eliana Lopez, on New Year’s Eve.

In exchange for Mirkrarimi’s plea agreement, District Attorney George Gascón has dropped three misdemeanor charges of alleged domestic violence, dissuading a witness and child endangerment.

Mirkarimi faces sentencing next Monday that is expected to include up to three years probation, 100 hours of community service, 52 weeks of domestic violence classes, as well as a fine of $590. A stay away order imposed in January remains in effect subject to a Family court order.

“My first priority has always been the safety of Ms. L and her child,” Gascón said in a statement. “Today’s guilty plea clearly reflects the seriousness of the incident and my commitment to prosecuting domestic violence cases.”

“As I have mentioned in the past, an appropriate response to domestic violence is essential if any effect is to be had on those who abuse, those who are abused, and the children who witness abuse. I am confident today’s plea and mandated counseling will help this family,” Gascón added.

The plea agreement, believed to have been hashed out with prosecutors on Sunday, effectively ends a criminal trial that could have led to Mirkarimi being convicted on one or more of the original charges, counts that carried a sentence of up to one year in jail.

Central to the prosecution’s case was a video taken by Lopez’ neighbor, Ivory Madison, on January 1 which shows a bruise on Lopez’ right arm. Mirkarimi’s defense team had sought and failed to exclude the video from evidence.

“This was a resolution that will allow Sheriff Mirkarimi to continue in his position, end this process and more quickly reunite with his family,” said Mirkarimi defense attorney Lidia Stiglich. “He has done his part now to put this matter in the rear view mirror and get back to work and his family.”

Mayor Ed Lee, who has the authority to trigger an Ethics Commission investigation into whether Mirkarimi’s conviction for misdemeanor false imprisonment rises to the standard of official misconduct, released the following statement:

“This clearly remains serious and troubling for our City. The Sheriff, one of our top law enforcement officials, has now pleaded guilty to an unexpected and very serious charge that has introduced a new set of legal issues that must be thoroughly reviewed. I am working with legal counsel to review the facts and determine what options are available to me under the City charter.

“I understand the troubling nature that this guilty plea raises, given the Sheriff’s role in overseeing and incarcerating criminals in our county jails.

“I intend to make a decision based on all of the facts as quickly as possible.”

Kat Anderson contributed to this report.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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  • Ralph

    Once the New Year’s Eve incident became public, Mirkarimi and his wife could have met with the district attorney and probably avoided a complaint ever being filed. Now the public knows about the incident, the video, the text messages, and the former girlfriend’s panties. And I assume that he and his wife have spent much money on attorney’s fees. Oh what a price Mirkarimi paid for his arrogance.

  • DavidinSF

    The Mirkarimi soap opera has been cancelled by the networks due to little or no viewer Interest. What a waste of SF taxpayers money, Somebody needs
    To be held accountable for the man hours wasted, (how many) and money wasted.( how much)

  • http://www.linkedin.com/myprofile?trk=hb_tab_pro Ann Garrison

    I hope Ed Lee looks into his options with regard to the Go Lorrie’s Vans illegal money laundering investigation, which he’ll no doubt be called to testify in, at the same time.

    Although when the Mayor testified that he didn’t remember, as City Manager, overriding his senior staff’s conclusions that Willie Brown ally General Computer Solutions was a fraud, so as to award them a lucrative Y2K contract, no one seemed to take much interest besides The Guardian, FCJ, and KPFA.

  • tami

    This is not about Mirkarimi’s arrogance! Gascon wants to overturn the voters’ will, and short of a conviction, he knew this would tarnish his reputation and Gascon never would have settled it behind closed doors!
    I believe the Sheriff and his wife when they say there was no DV that day. Maybe an ugly argument, but no physical violence. I think he had an EXCELLENT ATTORNEY, who did a brilliant job, but it is sad, that justice, a full, unequivocal exoneration didn’t occur. But we already know how many innocent people are erroneously convicted, and when you have a DA who releases evidence in an overt effort to intimidate the “victim,” violating her basic right to privacy, and who shamelessly wastes tax dollars to build a case on contrived evidence and hearsay, did I mention the jilted lover who clung to him until the bitter end, I think this was the best option when options were limited.
    I agree with Ann, we have real problems to deal with, where is the effort for that?
    In my community it is the unsolved homicides of Black youth… Somehow there is no interest from the DA’s office to solve those!
    I echo David as well, what a waste of tax dollars! They are not public servants, they think the public is their private ATM!
    I think the BoS needs to cut Gascon’s budget in half, and redirect the money to basic human services.

  • Ralph

    Tami, I disagree with your assessment. I truly believe that Gascon only reluctantly filed a complaint because he was under pressure to do so after Mirkarimi had failer to cooperate with the investigators. Gascon gained nothing politically by filing a complaint. Now Mirkarimi has been found guilty in the court of public opinion.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/myprofile?trk=hb_tab_pro Ann Garrison

    I hope Eliana Lopez has a great case against the City of San Francisco for the release of that photo, and that a lawyer will take it on contingency. The claim that Gascon released the photo in Eliana Lopez’s interest is as believable as Ross’s bitter ex-girl friend’s claim that she got on the witness stand and said some of the most hurtful things she could say, regarding Eliana Lopez, in Eliana Lopez’s interest.