Shirakawa pleads guilty to misappropriation, perjury charges

March 18, 2013 8:54:38 PM PDT
Former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. pleaded guilty Monday to charges of misusing taxpayer money. Prosecutors say Shirakawa's crimes were driven in large part by his gambling. The disgraced former supervisor made no statements in court. He never showed any emotion. He appeared with just his lawyer and no entourage.

Shirakawa stood before Judge Philip Pennypacker as he read the list of charges against him. Shirakawa pleaded guilty to each of the five felonies -- four counts of perjury and one count of misappropriating public funds. He also pleaded guilty to seven misdemeanors for failing to file accurate campaign reports.

The 51-year-old former county supervisor is accused of using taxpayer money and campaign donations as his personal piggy bank. Prosecutors say he used his county credit card to pay for gambling expenses to Las Vegas. Other financial abuses include golf vacations, $100 steaks, hotel suites and first class upgrades on flights.

As part of the plea deal, Shirakawa resigned from the board of supervisors where he was once president.

Shirakawa could have received eight years in state prison for all his crimes. But prosecutors are only asking for a year in county jail. He owes the state $50,000 and also agreed to reimburse the county about $14,000. He's already paid back $7,000.

Prosecutor Karyn Sinunu-Towery explained why she only asked for a year in jail, rather than a long prison term.

"We knew he was going to step down right away and we wanted to end the public nightmare so we agreed to ask for one year in county jail," Sinunu-Towery said.

Shirakawa agreed in the plea deal never to run for office again.

"So let's all hope for a much cleaner government and best for Santa Clara County," Sinunu-Towery said. "It's a very sad day when a supervisor comes to court and pleads guilty to 12 counts."

The judge will set a sentencing date later this month.


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