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Former lawmaker pleads no contest in parking lot incident during USC football game [Updated]

Former state Assembly Majority Leader Walter Karabian pleaded no contest to misdemeanor disturbing the peace in an  incident in which he ran into a parking attendant with his car last year during a USC football game.

Karabian, 71, allegedly tried to drive his car into a parking structure at Exposition Park but was stopped by a female attendant who refused him entry for not having a proper permit. Authorities allege the attorney then drove his car forward, striking the woman several times. She was not seriously injured.

Karabian was initially charged with misdemeanor assault and faced a year in county jail. On Tuesday, Karabian pleaded no contest to a lesser charge and must serve 40 hours of community service and three years probation.

[Updated 3:30 p.m. A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office initially said that Karabian pleaded no contest to misdemeanor "fighting" but later said the plea involved "disturbing the peace". Joseph Gutierrez, Karabian’s attorney, said Tuesday that after his client performs community service, the misdemeanor no contest plea would be reduced to an infraction by the court.

“Walter Karabian is a man who has contributed extensively over the years to the to the community,” Gutierrez said. “This case was investigated very thoroughly and in the final analysis, the district attorney’s office agreed that a no contest plea to disturbing the peace was an appropriate resolution and the case will be reduced to an infraction in 6 months. Both sides agree that this was a fair resolution of the case given the facts of the case and Mr. Karabian’s history.”]

Gutierrez noted that the plea is not an admission of guilt and said that Karabian "strongly disputed the allegation that he struck the attendant with his vehicle" and that they had "expert medical evidence to dispute those allegations."

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office had referred the case to the city attorney’s office after refusing to file felony charges. But the city referred the case back for misdemeanor filing because a relative of Karabian's works for the city attorney's office.

Karabian, long known for his work on behalf of causes relating to Armenians, is a USC graduate who was elected to several terms in the state Legislature in the 1960s and early 1970s, when he served as majority leader.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Comments () | Archives (5)

So how does one go about getting a relative in the city attorney's office ???

(just in case I need to get a felony reduced to a misdemeanor)

Who do some of these people think they are?
He should do some jail time.

Laws are only for the power structure, not "common" people.
Laws are written by Lawyers for Lawyers, not for the Public.

I would be the last man on this planet to suggest that Mr. Karabian called in some IOU's on this, but my understanding of this kind of offense, especially when it involves a police officer in uniform, is that the defendant is generally charged with attempted murder, and then eventually allowed to plead to a lesser charge, but still a charge much greater than Mr. Karabian pled to. Presumably the DA's office draws a big distinction between a police officer and a mere attendant at a parking garage. Ralph L. Seifer, Long Beach. Deputy Public Defender, retired.

Did any of you legal eagles stop to think that the DA offered this plea agreement because they had a weak case? Did anyone see that there was a motion (and a juicy public record) to dismiss for use of perjured testimony? Is anyone ignorant enough to think that Steve Cooley, amidst an election for AG (the state's top prosecutor), would risk any impropriety with all the media coverage this case generated? Chew on that one for a sec before you come to the realization that this was a weak case with severe problems the DA did not want to go before a jury, and that possibly, Mr. Karabian was the victim of an opportunist. It wouldn't even be worth paying a lawyer for trial when they are offering a plea to disturbing the peace.


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