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SF sheriff won't yield oversight after conviction

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- San Francisco's sheriff has told Mayor Ed Lee that he will not give up oversight of his department's domestic violence prevention program despite being on probation in such a case.

Ross Mirkarimi told Lee in a three-page letter written Nov. 9 that his undersheriff will handle any disciplinary actions involving subordinates accused of domestic violence and Mirkarimi will have no input.

The sheriff also wrote that he has no day-to-day role in administering two domestic violence prevention programs and in supervising inmates who are in custody for such offenses, the San Francisco Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/XhES9Z ).

Mirkarimi was writing in response to Lee and District Attorney George Gascon, who have been urging the sheriff to recuse himself from his office's domestic-violence-related duties. They are both seeking legislation to force the sheriff to do so.

Mirkarimi is on probation for three years after pleading guilty in March to misdemeanor false imprisonment for a New Year's Eve argument in which he later admitted to bruising his wife's arm.

Mirkarimi has repeatedly said that he believes there is no conflict of interest despite his conviction. He noted that the sheriff does not have power over charging, prosecuting or sentencing domestic violence offenders, who, he wrote, are “treated no differently from any other inmates.”

He reiterated his stance in his letter to Lee.

“I have discussed your concerns and those raised by the District Attorney with the (Sheriff's) Department legal counsel,” Mirkarimi wrote. “Although neither you nor the District Attorney articulated a legal basis for a conflict of interest, my review did consider all of your concerns.

“I am confident that a conflict of interest does not exist.”

Mirkarimi told KPIX-TV on Friday that he doesn't know specifically what Lee and Gascon want, saying he's not directly involved with domestic violence programs.

But the mayor's office isn't quite sold on Mirkarimi's position.

“At first blush, it doesn't appear Sheriff Mirkarimi has recused himself and addressed the concerns expressed by the mayor and the district attorney,” Lee's spokeswoman Christine Falvey told the Chronicle on Thursday.

Falvey added that the sheriff's letter “is still under review.”

Sheriff's spokeswoman Susan Fahey said the conflict-of-interest policy that Mirkarimi discussed in the letter isn't different from the agency's practice under his long-serving predecessor, Michael Hennessey.

Fahey said it would apply to the case of sheriff's Lt. Vincent Calvarese, who is on administrative leave after pleading not guilty to misdemeanor charges of assault, battery and false imprisonment in July for an incident involving a man he used to date.

Lee suspended Mirkarimi in March after the sheriff pleaded guilty related to the false imprisonment charge. Lee then tried permanently removing Mirkarimi by filing official misconduct charges.

Despite calls by anti-domestic violence advocates to remove Mirkarimi, the Board of Supervisors voted to reinstate Mirkarimi, a former supervisor.

Gascon has declined to comment, saying he had not seen Mirkarimi's letter, which was addressed to Lee.

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com

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