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San Gabriel mayor accused of stealing purse calls incident a 'great misunderstanding between friends'

October 17, 2010 |  9:36 am

The booking photo of Albert Y.M. Huang, mayor of the city of San Gabriel. Credit: San Gabriel Police Department The mayor of San Gabriel, arrested Friday for allegedly taking a woman’s purse and driving away with her clinging to the side of his sport-utility vehicle, said in a statement that the entire incident was a misunderstanding.

"As a public official and a former Boy Scout, I hold myself to the highest standard of conduct," Mayor Albert Y.M. Huang said. "On last night's incident, it was a great misunderstanding between friends. As a result I am confident I will restore my innocence in court."
On his Facebook page, he added: "I want to thank everyone for their flood of e-mails and messages in standing by my side and supporting me."

Police said they received a call about 1:15 a.m. Friday about a heated argument between Huang and a woman. Investigators determined Huang was arguing over money with the woman outside a restaurant in the 300 block of West Valley Boulevard.

Huang allegedly took the woman’s purse, which contained her car keys, cash and personal belongings and got into her car, said San Gabriel police Lt. Ariel Duran.

The woman attempted to prevent him from leaving by reaching through the vehicle’s window. Huang then allegedly pushed the woman, got out of her car and entered his own, a Nissan SUV.

The woman then reached through the passenger window of Huang’s SUV and stood on its running boards, Duran said.

Huang accelerated as fast as 45 mph down Prospect Avenue with the woman hanging on, Duran said.

"It's a 25 mph speed limit zone, and he's doing 45 with the female hanging on the car," Duran said.

Huang drove more than a quarter mile with the woman on his car, Duran said.

A security guard at a local business saw what was going on and detained Huang and the woman until officers arrived.

Officers arrested Huang, 35, on suspicion of felony robbery, suspicion of assault by means likely to produce great injury, also a felony, and battery.

Duran said there was no indication Huang was intoxicated at the time of the incident, and he has not been charged with DUI. His bail was set at $100,000.

The woman, who is 33 years old, was not seriously injured, Duran said, and her belongings were recovered. Her name has not been released, and Duran said it was unclear what her relationship was to Huang.

-- Sam Allen and Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo: Albert Y.M. Huang, mayor of the city of San Gabriel. Credit: San Gabriel Police Department