Readers of Traffic (the Los Angeles bits) may remember my brief encounter with Kartik Patel, the L.A. DOT engineer I interviewed on “Oscar Night” in the city’s traffic bunker. He was later accused, with another engineer, of tampering with the traffic lights during an ongoing labor action.
News comes from the LA Times that Mr. Patel and Gabriel Murillo have “pleaded guilty to a single felony count of illegally accessing a city computer connected to the center.”
I liked Mr. Patel when I met him, so I’m admittedly pleased that he didn’t appear to get a more severe penalty (at one point the DHS had been called in):
“Under the plea deal, sentencing will be delayed one year, said Jane Robison, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. The two must pay full restitution, serve 120 days in jail or complete 240 hours of work with Caltrans or other community service, and must have their computers at home and work monitored.
Defense attorney James Blatt, the lawyer for Murillo, said today that his client had been an exceptional employee and that the matter should have been handled administratively. He noted that despite pleading guilty to a felony, both men would be sentenced to one misdemeanor count and that after a brief period of probation, both sides would dismiss the count and expunge their criminal record.
“This was an emotional collective-bargaining strike situation,” Blatt said. “This should have been handled administratively. Mr. Murillo and Mr. Patel are outstanding citizens and have devoted a significant part of their professional lives to transportation safety in Los Angeles County.”