By RANDI ROSSMANN, JULIE JOHNSON & KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo will remain in rehab for at least a few more weeks, allowing the embattled 5th District representative to complete the first phase of an ongoing alcohol treatment program, his defense attorney Chris Andrian said Saturday.
Carrillo checked into an out-of-county facility following his arrest July 13 in his west Santa Rosa neighborhood on suspicion of prowling and burglary. He is suspected of trying to enter a young woman’s home through her bedroom window and was wearing only underwear and socks when he was arrested.
His monthlong rehab stint initially was projected to end Monday. He’d been penciled in to return to work Wednesday, said Susan Upchurch, his district director.
But Andrian said the 32-year-old, who on Tuesday will miss his third Board of Supervisors meeting, isn’t ready to return to work.
There is no specific timetable for his return, which hinges on when his doctors believe Carrillo has acquired the skills he’ll need to successfully deal with his alcoholism, Andrian said.
“He is still in phase one of their program, which means he is not coming out in the next few days,” his attorney said. “He’s remaining until he completes this phase … they are working on a plan for him to re-enter the world at some point hopefully in the near future.”
Andrian met with Carrillo, who represents west Sonoma County, for about three hours Friday afternoon at the center. He declined to say where the center is located, citing a facility requirement of secrecy to avoid media attention.
They had “heartfelt conversations,” he said, discussing his progress with the treatment program and his next steps, including an outpatient treatment program he’ll enter once back in Sonoma County.
They also discussed the status of his criminal case and his possible return to public life after his time in seclusion. Andrian said Carrillo is aware of public reaction to the incidents surrounding his arrest and of political unrest in his district. But the attorney said Carrillo’s focus has to be on his recovery and it is too early for him to make decisions about his political future.
“He’s committed to getting healthy and to be in a position to make the right choices. He knows everybody’s anxious … about an empty (supervisor’s) seat. Sometimes in life we’ve got to be patient … give (him) a chance to get through a difficult time and make a choice,” Andrian said.
“When he walks out that day he’s going to have to face his case, face his career, he’s going to have to face all those things,” he said.
Andrian’s discussions with Carrillo on Friday included private attorney-client conversations, the lawyer said. Carrillo also met with his advisers, including former west county Supervisor Eric Koenigshofer.
Koenigshofer has not returned calls seeking comment about Carrillo and said to a reporter Thursday that he would not discuss the subject.
Friday was the first time the defense attorney and client had met since Carrillo’s July 18 court hearing, Andrian said.
That morning the supervisor looked exhausted and red-eyed as he appeared before a judge while the prosecution asked for more time to determine what, if any, charges would be filed. Santa Rosa police arrested Carrillo on suspicion of misdemeanor prowling and felony burglary believing he intended to commit a sexual assault.
“He looks significantly better than when I saw him in court,” said Andrian, describing Carrillo now as looking healthy, strong and clear-eyed.
Mentally, Carrillo remained “humbled, humiliated and embarrassed by his conduct,” Andrian said.
The July 13 incident was Carrillo’s second high-profile brush with the law in nine months. Last Labor Day weekend, the supervisor was arrested in connection with a fight outside a San Diego bar.
Charges in the San Diego incident were later dropped, but Carrillo’s advisers acknowledged in July that alcohol had played a role in the fight.
In July’s incident, Carrillo’s female neighbor called 911 twice, first at about 3:40 a.m., saying a shirtless man had been trying to get into her bedroom window, according to police accounts. Ten minutes later, she called to say a man had knocked on her front door, calling out that he was a neighbor before he ran off.
An officer found Carrillo nearby in his underwear, holding a cellphone.
Carrillo’s explanations regarding his actions didn’t make sense, police said. Investigators said they believed he may have intended a sexual assault, conduct they felt justified a felony burglary charge.
The political fallout from his arrest has been severe for the second-term supervisor, who had been a rising Latino star in the state Democratic Party. His fellow supervisors publicly condemned Carrillo’s behavior. He has been passed over for key county leadership posts, and opponents have threatened a recall if he doesn’t resign.
“We talked about him being aware of what his choices may be. To resign, not to … ” said Andrian, calling those issues premature.
Supporters point to the work he’s done for the district and have said they are withholding judgment until they learn more about the incident.
Carrillo remains on paid medical leave from his job, which paid $150,015 last year, including salary, car and cash allowance.
In a brief statement issued after his arrest, Carrillo said his embarrassing behavior involved alcohol. Koenigshofer picked up Carrillo after he posted bail and drove him to the treatment facility.
Andrian described Carrillo’s treatment as a boot camp-like program, with strict and early waking hours, timely tasks to be performed and counseling delving into his personal history and recognizing problem triggers, including possible anger issues. He’s being supervised by doctors and mental health professionals.
Initially he had no visitors but more recently has had some visits, including family, Andrian said.
“It’s a pretty serious place. And they don’t just say you come and go just when you think it’s time to go,” he said. “I think he’s listening to them, working with them, working on this program.”
Once out of this program, he was expected to return to Sonoma County but move to a new neighborhood, Andrian said. He’ll also enroll in a Kaiser Permanente outpatient chemical dependency treatment program.
“My take on him was he was energized about his recovery in the context he was looking at that as his first hurdle. This is to set him up for the rest of his life,” Andrian said.
Carrillo and Andrian are next due in court Aug. 30 to learn what charges, if any, prosecutors will file.
The prosecution is being handled by Napa County Deputy District Attorney Cody Hunt and overseen by the state Attorney General’s Office. Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch asked for the state to step in because the Board of Supervisors approves her budget and she and Carrillo have been political allies.
Andrian has heard Carrillo’s explanation for what happened that night but declined to discuss it. The defense attorney hasn’t seen any police reports yet, which are something he’s legally due to receive at the next court hearing.
“I have some questions about … what’s necessary to prove the burglary charge, prove beyond a reasonable doubt his intent,” said the defense attorney. “They’re asserting he broke through a window … they have to prove that was for purpose of the sexual assault. That’s going to be the fulcrum issue. I can’t defend his overall behavior and neither can he. On the other hand, is this a felony burglary charge?”
Andrian was a Carrillo supporter in both of his elections. “I know this guy. From everything I know about him, I just don’t see him as somebody who would actually rape somebody,” he said.
Andrian has previously suggested Carrillo had gone to the woman’s apartment to share drinks and had no intent to assault her. He said he’d heard “somehow there had been some alcohol on the scene. My feeling was, I knew he’d been drinking and he’d wanted to continue to drink.”
Santa Rosa Police Lt. Lance Badger said Thursday his department has not received requests for further investigation of the matter from the prosecution team.
Police finished their report on the matter within days of the arrest. “Our investigation is done, it was not a lengthy investigation,” Badger said. “We have received no requests for follow-up from Napa; there are no new developments.”
Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill said the prosecution would not comment before the hearing on the charges they are considering against Carrillo, nor will they say whether any additional investigation is needed.
Police sometimes receive notification when the prosecution opts to move forward with charges different from those recommended by police, but that has not occurred at this point in this case, Badger said.
A felony burglary conviction would trigger Carrillo’s removal from office.
Badger said the arresting charges were based on “statements and evidence, the totality of the circumstances.” The case was based on the isolated incident of July 13, he said.
He declined to clarify the circumstances surrounding Carrillo’s arrest, including further explanation about what led police to suspect Carrillo’s intent in the burglary was sexual assault. He said they’ve put out sufficient information and would not discuss it further.
“We’re not going to put out anything that might jeopardize the prosecution,” Badger said.
Police did not test Carrillo’s blood-alcohol level, saying that during questioning the supervisor appeared to have been drinking but not at a level that would have been unlawful.
Andrian was critical Saturday of investigators’ decision not to test Carrillo’s blood-alcohol level.
“We’ll never know” how intoxicated Carrillo was, Andrian said. “They never tested him.”
Badger said he knew the case was politically sensitive and said the Police Department was “not trying to hide anything” and that the investigation was handled the way it would have been had the suspect not been an elected official.
You can reach Staff Writers Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or email@example.com, Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or firstname.lastname@example.org and Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or email@example.com.