L.A. LAW Hilton, Baca (inset)
Did family money buy Paris Hilton a temporary get-out-of-jail card?
Sheriff Lee Baca, the Los Angeles law-enforcement official who ordered Hilton released from jail after serving only three days in her 45-day sentence, accepted a $1,000 campaign donation last year from William Barron Hilton—Paris's grandfather. That contribution constituted the maximum amount allowable under California campaign rules.
Baca has come under heavy fire for deciding to let Hilton serve out the remainder of her sentence at home, in apparent defiance of the orders given by the judge who sentenced her last month. Baca has said that Hilton was suffering from a "medical condition," an explanation that has not fared well under scrutiny. This afternoon, Judge Michael T. Sauer ordered Hilton back to jail. She reportedly left the courtroom screaming "It's not right! Mom!"
In office since 1998, Baca has cultivated close ties to the Hollywood community. Others who donated money to his campaign last year included Rupert Murdoch, Les Moonves, Ron Meyer, Brad Grey, Steven Segal, and Burt Bacharach. He was assailed last year over a claim by the Sheriff's Department that Mel Gibson had been arrested without incident, when the star had actually spewed anti-Semitic statements after getting pulled over for drunk driving. It soon emerged that Gibson had taped a public service announcement for Baca's relief committee.
Baca has not yet responded to a request for comment.
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