San Gabriel’s Mayor Resigns After Arrest

Ching-Ching Ni, Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2010

Once, Albert Huang was the pride of his community, a young mayor and only the second Asian American to serve on San Gabriel’s City Council. Now he may well be remembered for fighting with a woman at a dumpling house late at night and for being arrested.

At an emotional news conference in his lawyer’s office on Tuesday morning, the 35-year-old Huang, who is also an architect and developer, announced his resignation from the San Gabriel City Council. He said he was tired of the bad press he and his family have been getting since his arrest last Friday.

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Since Huang was released on $100,000 bail Friday after being arrested on suspicion of felony battery, assault and robbery, the Chinese-language media have been abuzz with tales of the alleged altercation and the mystery woman with whom Huang scuffled. Reports have said that she is his girlfriend, that they have bickered in public before and that she runs a foot massage parlor. None of it could be confirmed.

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He has not been formally charged in Friday’s incident. At the news conference, he and his lawyer, Daniel Deng, declined to talk about the fight that allegedly started about 1 a.m. inside a San Gabriel dumpling house and continued on the street, with Huang snatching the woman’s purse and driving off as she clung to the side of his SUV.

“It’s a private matter that has nothing to do with his capacity as mayor,” said Deng. “He wants to prove his innocence in court.”

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Li [Baogang Li, the owner of the New Taste Dumpling House] was in the kitchen cooking when he heard the sound of a metal steamer basket crashing to the ground. His waiter told him the woman hurled a steamer containing at least three soup dumplings at Huang. He retaliated by pouring a little dish of vinegar on her.

“I heard the woman scream, ‘Call the police!'” said Li. “I’ve seen couples argue before, so I didn’t think we needed to call the cops. If they were on the floor fighting, I would have done something.”

Asked what they thought about the mayor’s arrest, some customers at the dumpling house one evening this week seemed surprised.

“It would be unthinkable in China,” said a college student from Mainland China who would give only his last name, Lin. “In China, no police would dare arrest a mayor.”

But this is America. And soon after leaving the restaurant, Huang was nabbed by a security guard from the Red Rose, a karaoke nightclub across the street that is also known as the Turning Point. The guard apparently saw him speed off with a woman clinging to the side of his SUV and gave chase.

According to police, Huang and his female companion fought over her purse. Then he tried to drive off with it, first in her car, then in his. She wouldn’t let him go and perched on the running board of his SUV, hanging on as he sped off at 45 mph.

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Born into a well-heeled family in Taiwan, Huang immigrated to California at 9. He founded three real estate development, construction and design companies–Richmont Development Corp., R&Y Construction and Studio R Inc.–before his 25th birthday, according to a company website.

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