Published March 12, 2012
| Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco sheriff Ross Mirkarimi pleaded guilty Monday to false imprisonment in a domestic violence case after reaching a plea deal.
Mirkarimi entered the plea after an appeals court said an emotional video of his wife could be shown to the jury during his domestic violence trial.
The video shows his wife displaying a bruised bicep and tearfully describing Mirkarimi grabbing her in front of their son in the couple's San Francisco home on New Year's Eve.
Under the plea agreement, Mirkarimi was fined $590 and sentenced to three years of probation and a year of counseling. He will also be required to take parenting classes.
Mirkarimi tearfully told a throng of reporters outside court that he intends to remain as sheriff.
He said the case has caused "great turmoil, pain and disappointment" for his family, the Sheriff's Department and the city of San Francisco. The plea "allows us to move forward," he said.
Mirkarimi was initially charged with misdemeanor domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness. Those charges were dropped in exchange for the sheriff's guilty plea to the imprisonment charge. He could have faced a year in prison if convicted of those charges.
Mirkarimi didn't take questions after making his brief statement. He said he would address the case in more detail after he is formally sentenced on March 19 and "released from the constraints of the process."
He also must stay-away from his wife and son until a judge lifts the prohibition.
His wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez has steadfastly maintained that she was not a victim of domestic violence, and she was refusing to testify at Mirkarimi's trial, which was set to begin with jury selection Monday.
With the jury set to see the video, Mirkarimi's lawyer and prosecutors struck a deal Sunday night that dismissed domestic violence charges that would have required the sheriff to surrender his gun.
The video was made by the couple's next-door-neighbor Ivory Madison, who also notified police of the incident. Earlier this year, Lopez told a Venezuelan radio station that Mirkarimi did not abuse her and he is a victim of dirty politics.
On Monday, Mirkarimi told the judge that he would like to apologize to Madison for enduring some criticism for contacting the police. Mirkarimi said he realized now that Madison's action were done "out of desire to help my family."
Outside court, prosecutor Aguilar Tarchi said "we wish the victim and her family the best."