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Arizona prosecutors say charges against Tony La Russa are not being dropped despite reports

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said the charges had been dismissed as “a formality because the case was filed in the wrong court.” They will be refiled.

White Sox Manager Tony La Russa was charged with DUI after a February crash.
White Sox Manager Tony La Russa was charged with DUI after a February crash.
AP file

Arizona prosecutors said DUI charges against new White Sox manager Tony La Russa are not being dropped, despite earlier reports to the contrary.

Jennifer Liewer, the director of communications for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, told the Chicago Sun-Times by email that charges in the case had been dismissed as ‘‘a formality because the case was filed in the wrong court.’’ She said the charges will be refiled in a different court.

‘‘The charges are not being dropped,’’ Liewer told the paper.

The Sox hired the 76-year-old La Russa, who is friends with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, late last month, even though they knew he had been arrested in February. La Russa was charged the day before the Sox unveiled him as the leader best equipped to take them to the World Series.

A witness called police Feb. 24 to report that a vehicle ‘‘swerving across all lanes’’ of a highway in Arizona had hit a curb and begun to smoke before coming to a stop, according to public records. An officer found the vehicle, a grey Lexus RX350, and identified the driver as La Russa.

La Russa told the officer he had been ‘‘coming from a dinner with my friends with the California Angels baseball team,’’ had a tire blow out and was calling AAA, records show. The officer smelled alcohol, though. And tests taken that night allegedly showed La Russa’s blood-alcohol concentration was .095 — above the legal limit of .08.

While speaking with the officer in February, La Russa allegedly said: ‘‘Do you see my ring?’’ He then complained: ‘‘I’m a Hall of Famer baseball person. . . . I’m legit. I’m a Hall of Famer, brother. You’re trying to embarrass me.’’

La Russa has pleaded not guilty, and his attorney has complained in a statement about the length of time it has taken to resolve the case.

‘‘The legal process in Arizona, which began in February, has been delayed as a result of COVID-19,’’ La Russa attorney Larry Kazan said. ‘‘This matter should have come to a conclusion several months ago.

‘‘The process is continuing, but my client, Mr. Tony La Russa, is entitled to all the assumptions and protections afforded to anyone facing an accusation. It would be unfair and unwise for anyone outside the process to reach conclusions based on limited information.’’