Mirkarimi pleads guilty to false imprisonment, other charges to be dropped 

click to enlarge Sources said Monday that Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi will likely plead guilty to an amended charge of false imprisonment. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • s.f. examiner file photo
  • Sources said Monday that Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi will likely plead guilty to an amended charge of false imprisonment.

Offering apologies to The City, his family and the neighbor who reported him to police, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi on Monday pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in connection with an alleged New Year’s Eve domestic violence incident involving his wife.

Mirkarimi, 50, admitted to a newly added charge of false imprisonment after a plea deal was reached with prosecutors Sunday night. Charges of domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness will be dismissed at his sentencing next Monday.

“I want to be back with my family and I want this to end,” Mirkarimi told Judge James Collins, who accepted the deal. Mirkarimi went on to offer a “sincere apology” to Ivory Madison, the neighbor who told police days after the incident that Mirkarimi’s wife Eliana Lopez had tearfully confided in her that Mirkarimi had grabbed and bruised her arm in front of the couple’s young son.

Lopez, a 36-year-old Venezuelan immigrant and telenovela star, said she had agreed to document the injury because she feared that the “powerful” Mirkarimi could take her son away from her in a custody battle, Madison told police. But Lopez refused to cooperate with authorities and publicly denied there had been any abuse. Lopez and her attorneys later questioned Madison’s motives.

“I realize that what was reported … was truly a desire to help my family,” Mirkarimi told the judge.

In agreeing to the plea deal, Mirkarimi avoided jail time and a potentially lengthy trial. He will be on probation for three years, have to do 100 hours of community service, 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling, and take parenting classes. And a protective order preventing him from seeing his wife and from having a gun remains in effect until a judge agrees to lift it. He has been granted visitation rights to see his son.

Had the sheriff been found guilty of the domestic violence battery charge, he would have been forbidden outright from owning a gun. The false imprisonment charge does not carry such a requirement.

The plea came after several pretrial rulings that went against his defense, including one allowing the introduction of Lopez’s statements and a video Madison took of Lopez’s injury. Mirkarimi also was subjected to public disclosure of the embarrassing details of his personal life in court filings and witness testimony at pretrial hearings, including a prior girlfriend who came forward with similar accusations of abusive behavior.

“For the last two months, this case has caused my family, my department — the Sheriff’s Department — and this city, great turmoil, pain and disappointment,” Mirkarimi told reporters after the hearing. “This plea allows us to move forward. As I have, and I intend to return to the business of running one of the finest sheriff’s departments in the nation, of mending my family and raising my son Theo in a safe and happy home.”

Prosecutor Elizabeth Aguilar Tarchi thanked the “courageous” witnesses who agreed to come forward in the case, and said Monday’s agreement would provide “the victim and her family some closure.” Asked if justice had been done, she replied, “I believe it has.”

Mirkarimi’s attorney Lidia Stiglich acknowledged that the legal tide was moving against her client.

“This was very difficult. This was hard-fought, with no end in sight,” Stiglich said. In addition to the court rulings, “There was still a very real possibility that this case would be tried in another county,” she said. “And I think you just couple all of that, with those difficulties, and how long it would take, and I think he’s made a very difficult and measured decision, in trying to do the right thing.”


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