L.A. City assistant fire chief accepts alcohol treatment, community service in lieu of jail time

Fortman (left) poses for a photo at a Dec. 6, 2018 the Los Angeles Fire Department promotion ceremony. Photo by Gary Apodaca.

A Saugus man and Los Angeles City assistant fire chief arrested on suspicion of crashing his vehicle into a light pole and at least two other vehicles — one of which he reportedly dragged more than 160 feet and up a driveway — agreed to complete a handful of preconditions and programs in court Friday in order to avoid potential jail time in connection to his charges.

Ellsworth Fortman, 54, was charged last year with one misdemeanor count each of hit-and-run driving resulting in property damage and driving a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license.

On Friday, a judge granted what’s known as a diversionary program to Fortman, a process by which a defendant agrees with the District Attorney’s Office to fulfill terms and conditions in exchange for the dismissal of a criminal case.

At approximately 10:30 p.m. Jan. 26, 2020, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies were called near the intersection of David Way and Calhaven Drive in Saugus regarding a vehicle running into another parked vehicle and pushing it about 50 yards down a neighborhood street, according to Sgt. Scott Shoemaker of the SCV Sheriff’s Station Traffic Unit.

Traffic investigators expressed their belief that Fortman was suspected of hitting a second vehicle and light pole before fleeing the scene.

Deputies were able to locate what they believed was Fortman’s vehicle involved in the suspected hit and run, ultimately impounding the vehicle as evidence, Shoemaker said.

A case was filed by the District Attorney’s Office four months after the initial incident, on May 7, 2020, according to court records.

In exchange for diverting the criminal charges, over the next 24 months, Fortman will need to complete 15 days community labor, attend 26 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and provide full restitution to victims, according to Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Failure to comply with the agreement will result in a return to criminal proceedings for Fortman.

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