When Paris Hilton was sprung from jail early, few were as outraged – and as outspoken – as the prosecutor who put her there.
But City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo’s complaints of a two-tiered jail system where “the rich and powerful receive special treatment” have come to back to haunt him.
Soon after Hilton was sent back to jail earlier this month, he acknowledged his wife had committed a similar infraction – driving with a suspended license. Among other things, he also admitted sticking the taxpayers with the bill after his wife crashed his city-issued car in 2004, and acknowledged that staffers have occasionally run personal errands and baby-sat his children.
“He was living in somewhat of a glass house,” said Raphael Sonenshein, a political scientist at California State University, Fullerton.
The disclosures have led the California bar and the city Ethics Commission to open investigations of one of Los Angeles’ highest-ranking law enforcement officers.
The furor has sent the normally publicity-friendly politician into virtual hiding. Delgadillo’s office declined to comment.
Delgadillo is a 46-year-old up-and-coming Democrat whose close advisers are said to refer to themselves as “Team 1600,” a reference to the Pennsylvania Avenue address of the White House.
The son of an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Rockard Delgadillo grew up in East Los Angeles and won a scholarship to Harvard, where he played football. He earned his law degree from Columbia University.
He was a deputy mayor to Richard Riordan and an entertainment attorney for powerhouse legal firm O’Melveny & Myers, where former Secretary of State Warren Christopher practices.
In 2001, he was elected to the first of two terms as city attorney, becoming the first Mexican-American to hold citywide office in three decades. He ran unsuccessfully for California attorney general last fall.
Apart for some questions about his claims of gridiron glory, including a boast he played pro football (he tried out for New York Giants but didn’t make the team), he had had little trouble in office up until two weeks ago.
That was when Delgadillo decried Hilton’s release from jail by the sheriff. He argued that Hilton should serve more time behind bars for driving with a suspended license and violating her probation on alcohol-related reckless driving charges.
On the same day, he acknowledged that his wife, Michelle, got a ticket for driving with a suspended license in 2005.