More tense testimony and pivotal decisions are in store this week for the growing cast of characters involved in the official misconduct proceedings against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.
Just when the Ethics Commission inquest into the sheriff’s removal from office appeared to be winding down, the hearings were rocked by accusations of perjury against Mayor Ed Lee and Mirkarimi. Lee suspended Mirkarimi without pay in March after the latter pleaded guilty to domestic violence against his wife, Eliana Lopez.
On Wednesday, Lopez and Mirkarimi campaign manger Linnette Peralta Haynes are expected to testify. Lopez, who supports her husband, has written that she feels betrayed by the former neighbor who first took her tearful abuse complaints to police.
Peralta Haynes is sure to be questioned over political maneuvering regarding the incident’s fallout — as revealed by text messages between her and Mirkarimi, who said the “vibe” of his public defense should suggest that he was being targeted in a “witch hunt.”
On Thursday, the commission could decide whether to hear from four witnesses called by Mirkarimi’s attorneys to shed more light on whether Lee lied when testifying that he didn’t speak to supervisors about the charges before they were filed or authorize third parties to offer Mirkarimi an alternative job in exchange for resignation.
The Board of Supervisors ultimately will decide whether Mirkarimi is removed or reinstated, so Mirkarimi’s attorneys view any prior contact about the misconduct charges as tantamount to jury tampering.
During a delay in Lee’s testimony caused by an apparent City Hall bomb threat, Building Inspection Commissioner Debra Walker accused Lee of lying because her friend, Supervisor Christina Olague, had informed her that the mayor sought advice about the debacle back in March. But Olague — appointed by Lee to replace Mirkarimi on the board — now denies speaking about the matter.
Olague and Walker could testify along with former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin and politically connected “permit expediter” Walter Wong. Peskin has said Wong presented himself as a mayoral emissary in March when asking Peskin to approach Mirkarimi with alternate job opportunities.
Calls to Wong have gone unreturned. According to Chinatown leader Rose Pak, a friend to both Wong and Lee, Wong’s attorney told him to not comment.
Meanwhile, the City Attorney’s Office wants to hear from police Inspector Mike Becker, who would contradict Mirkarimi’s under-oath statements about where one of his guns was located. When Mirkarimi was asked to surrender his firearms after his arrest, he said he’d sold one gun to a friend in 1996. But it was later found near his other two guns in a home storage locker.
However, Mirkarimi testified he told police that he was confused about the gun’s location and that it might be in a basement storage unit. Mirkarimi also testified there was an agreement between him, his attorney and police to hand over the weapons. But instead, the guns were surrendered to the Sheriff’s Department and eventually obtained — with apparent difficulty — by police.