LA County Settles Suit for $4.75 Million With Victims of '08 Crash Caused by Drunk Deputy Who OC Deputies Tried to Protect From DUI Test

UPDATE, MAY 18, 4:29 P.M.: LA County supervisors have approved a $4.75 million settlement for two Anaheim residents, one of whom was critically injured, whose car was plowed into by a veteran Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy driving a department SUV under the influence in 2008.

Robert Andrew Moran, 43, of Buena Park, was sentenced last year to six months in jail and three years of informal probation. although he was allowed by the judge to serve the time at home. A sheriff's investigator on a case when the wreck happened in Stanton, Moran is now a patrol deputy.

Orange County Register reporter Greg Hardesty writes that crash victim Elias Aldana, who was 33 at the time of the June 29, 2008, collision, racked up more than $2.1 million in medical expenses after suffering traumatic brain injury, internal injuries that required a splenectomy, rib fractures, pelvic fractures, a torn left shoulder and other soft tissue injuries.

Aldana's passenger Savanah Kirifi, also an Anaheim resident and 20 at the time of the wreck, sustained minor injuries but will also reportedly receive a portion of the settlement.

The report makes no mention of any punishment for (or names of) the Orange County deputies who tried to help Moran beat the drunk rap before he was arrested.

ORIGINAL UPDATED POST, OCT. 2, 2009, 2:43 P.M.: The Orange County District Attorney's Office originally announced the sentence for Robert Andrew Moran--the 43-year-old Buena Park resident and veteran Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who drove a department SUV while under the influence last year and plowed into another car, injuring two people--as six months in jail and three years of informal probation.

The Orange County Register's follow-up by veteran courts reporter Larry Welborn, who was in the courtroom where the sentence was read, reported that the judge ordered six months of home detention, much of which had already been served. That's also how Moran's attorney characterized the sentence in the Welborn piece.

A call to the DA's office for confirmation of the sentencing produced the same answer as the first one: six months in jail for Moran. A call to Welborn produced the same answer as his story: six months of home detention almost all previously served. Welborn even added the standard "I stand by my story" line you've heard in the movies.

Turns out, both versions are technically correct.

Moran's official sentence, the one that will be on his permanent record, is six months in jail. At the request of his attorney, the judge allowed the defendant the option of serving it at home with a monitoring device. He'd been doing that already since pleading no contest on Feb. 27, 2009, to one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence causing injury and one misdemeanor count of driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or more causing injury.

Here's one thing that was not in Welborn's original piece: It was the impression of a witness at the scene of the crash that Orange County sheriff's deputies who rolled up aided Moran by quickly giving him water and trying to delay as long as possible a test of their LA comrade's blood.

The inappropriate intervention did not work. Moran tested positive for being impaired while under the influence of alcohol and having a blood alcohol level above California's legal limit of .08 percent, the DA revealed in announcing Moran's sentence, which also included mandatory completion of a three-month first offender program and a face-off with a Mothers Against Drunk Driving panel.

Moran was driving south on Beach Boulevard in a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department-issued Chevrolet sport utility vehicle shortly before 5:30 a.m. on June 29, 2008, when he crashed into the driver's side door of a Mazda sedan at Beach and Garden Grove Boulevard in Stanton.

The Mazda driver, who the DA's office only identified as 33-year-old Elias A., and his female passenger, named as Savanah K., 20, were both knocked unconscious and had to be hospitalized. It was later determined that Elias A. tested positive for opiates, methamphetamine and benzodiazepines and was still holding meth.

An eyewitness at the scene previously told the Weekly's R. Scott Moxley that some unnamed Orange County sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene and tried to help their LA County colleague by quickly giving him water before any field sobriety tests could be given by other officers working the accident.

The local deputies also tried to prevent for as long as they could the blood test that would ulimately seal Moran's fate, Moxley was told.

The deputy was placed on unpaid leave from his force when charges were filed against him, but his lawyer told Welborn that Moran will seek reinstatement.


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