Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

L.A.'s top financial official arrested for drunk driving, issues apology [Updated]

March 26, 2010 |  2:24 pm

Santana The top budget analyst for the city of Los Angeles, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, was arrested by the California Highway Patrol early Friday for allegedly driving under the influence after attending an L.A. charity event.

Santana, who on Thursday night attended a political roast of Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley hosted by the American Diabetes Assn. at L.A. Live, was arrested in the San Gabriel Valley around 12:15 a.m. Santana lives in Claremont.

A CHP officer made the traffic stop after observing Santana’s car traveling at a high rate of speed on a surface street, said CHP spokesman Sgt. Mark Garrett. While interviewing Santana, the officer detected "signs and symptoms of intoxication" and placed him under arrest.

[Updated at 2:45 p.m.: CHP spokesman Officer Edmund Zorrilla said Santana was driving a city car at the time of his arrest, a gray Honda Civic. Officers made the arrest in Covina, near Citrus Avenue and Navilla Place, after the car was stopped and Santana failed a field sobriety test, Zorrilla said. Santana was very cooperative, he said.]

Santana, 40, submitted to a blood-alcohol test, but Garrett said CHP does not disclose results of such tests.

Santana issued a public statement Friday afternoon apologizing for the incident and said he would immediately seek counseling and "recommit myself to my family and work."

"I regret to say that last night I was involved in a very serious and irresponsible incident," he said in a written statement released by the mayor’s office. “Driving home from a charity event, I received a DUI. It was a mistake that I deeply regret and I apologize to my family and friends, my staff, the Mayor, the City Council and the entire city family for this indiscretion."

Santana was released from custody Friday morning.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Santana informed him of the incident this morning. "Mr. Santana is deeply sorry about this incident and recognizes the mistake he made," Villaraigosa said in a written statement. “Mr. Santana has informed me that he is going to immediately seek counseling and refocus on his work and dedication to serving the people of Los Angeles."

Since he took the job last year, Santana has been given the difficult task of addressing the city’s financial crisis. L.A. currently is grappling with a $212-million budget deficit, expected to more than double next budget year. The mayor and council have authorized the elimination of 4,000 city positions to help close the gap.

-- Phil Willon at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, right, and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times