San Gabriel mayor steps down following arrest

San Gabriel Mayor Albert Huang resigns at a news conference October 19, 2010
San Gabriel Mayor Albert Huang resigns at a news conference October 19, 2010 Corey Moore/KPCC

Less than a year after the City Council appointed him, San Gabriel Mayor Albert Huang is giving up the job. He announced his resignation after police arrested him on suspicion of felony robbery and assault.

The incident involved a fight he'd had with a woman friend. Huang blames his decision to quit on unwanted media attention.

"Today, I've chosen to resign from the San Gabriel City Council to focus on what are most important aspects of my life - my family," Huang said.

During that announcement at his attorney's office, Huang clung to his papers and described what he accomplished throughout his short time as San Gabriel's mayor — helping to balance the city's budget and starting an affordable prescription drugs program.

But Huang, 35, looked defeated as he discussed his decision to step down. He choked up several times and barely made eye contact with reporters.

"When I saw someone posted a picture of my daughter on the Internet, it is when a line has been crossed," Huang said. "Since last Friday, I have received over 500 well wishes via e-mail or telephone but have also witnessed how some individuals chose to attack me and my family during these most vulnerable times."

Huang, who’s separated from his wife, says he needs time to focus on the case and his family after police arrested him last week.

Authorities report that Huang and a woman he identified as a girlfriend, engaged in a food fight at a San Gabriel restaurant. Things got worse when Huang allegedly stole the woman's purse. Witnesses said Huang sped off in his SUV at 45 miles an hour as she clung to the vehicle.

Authorities released Huang from jail after he posted $100,000 in bail. Supporters and staff stood by Huang as he announced his resignation.

"He could be the next assemblyman or congressman — Asian American — in the San Gabriel Valley. But I respect his decision," said Huang's attorney, Daniel Deng. "He was able to use his talent, his expertise in the planning and his culture background to have a voice of Asian-Americans in the city council so it's a big loss for the community."

Outside the press conference, Ray Mak of San Gabriel demonstrated with a few other people who held picket signs. The placards referred to Huang as a purse snatcher and stated "don't let him get away."

"I'm not sure why the city actually hires a mayor with bad behavior. It's his behavior that actually counts," said Mak.

Roberto Moreno who lives in neighboring Rosemead praised Huang as a former city council member and mayor. But he added Huang's resignation was inevitable after the scandal.

"Now he's in that kind of trouble — so he won't get any chance any more... once they do a mistake like that, it's just like... over."

Authorities are still investigating the public argument. Huang and his attorneys say they’re poised to fight any legal fallout.

So far, prosecutors haven't filed any charges against Albert Huang.

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