Mayor who got into food fight will not be charged
Authorities have decided not to file charges against the former mayor of San Gabriel, who resigned in October after getting arrested in connection with an alleged altercation with a female companion.
Officials from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said they passed on the case against Albert Huang in early December when Lu Chen, the woman involved in the argument, left the country and declined to cooperate.
Huang had been facing possible charges of felony robbery, assault and battery related to the October incident. Huang was having a late-night snack with Chen at the New Taste Dumpling House in San Gabriel when the two allegedly began bickering. She threw a steamer of dumplings at him; he poured a plate of vinegar on her.
Then the couple took the fight outside, with Huang allegedly snatching her purse and trying to drive off. The dramatic moment came when a security guard across Valley Boulevard gave chase after reportedly spotting Huang speeding off in his SUV with his lady friend clinging to the side.
But then Chen left town and declined to cooperate.
"When you have a case of 'she said, he said,' it's very difficult to prosecute when you don't have the victim who is also the main witness," said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman in the D.A.'s office. "The victim is basically out of the country. We feel it is necessary for the victim to be present in order to prosecute."
Huang's lawyer, Darren Cornforth, said Huang has always maintained his innocence and is thrilled about the chance to clear his name.
"He is very happy about the outcome of the case. He does feel vindicated that he has not committed a crime," Cornforth said.
In addition to the loss of a key witness, Cornforth said he believes authorities simply did not find enough credible evidence to build a case.
"They need additional proof to back up the statement of the complaining witness," said Cornforth. "We sent our own investigators out there and they didn't see the situation the way the victim did. "
-- Ching-Ching Ni
Photos: (from top) San Gabriel residents express their anger at Mayor Albert Huang after his arrest. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times
Albert Huang. Credit: San Gabriel Police Department