A Santa Clara County Supervisor resigned in disgrace today after the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office officially filed five felony counts against him.
District Attorney Jeff Rosen has charged Supervisor George Shirakawa, Jr. with four counts of perjury and one misdemeanor count of misappropriation of public funds, as well as seven misdemeanors for failing to file accurate campaign reports.
Shirakawa, 51, allegedly engaged in a pattern of misusing public money and campaign funds for personal expenses, including parties, golf outings, and gambling, prosecutors claim.
“The public makes political contributions, votes, and pays takes with expectations that their elected officials will work diligently to make this county a better place to live,” District Attorney Rosen said today. By abusing his power and misappropriating public money that had been entrusted to him, Mr. Shirakawa violated both the law and the faith of the residents of Santa Clara County.”
Rosen’s office began its investigation into the supervisor late last year after a newspaper article pointed out that he had neglected to file a series of campaign disclosure forms. The four-month investigation showed that Shirakawa’s financial abuse was obscured by filing false campaign statements or filing none at all.
Shirakawa will be arraigned on March 18. Prosecutors say he has agreed to tender his resignation from the Board of Supervisors today and is expected to plead guilty to all charges. Assistant District Attorney Karen Sinunu-Towery has said she will also be asking for substantial jail time. Shirakawa has also agreed to sign a stipulation admitting to ten counts of violating the Political Reform Act and will pay a $5,000 penalty for each count.
Meanwhile, the Board of Supervisors has 45 days to either appoint someone to fill the vacancy or set a date for a special election. If the Board does not decide by then, it would be up to the Governor to appoint his replacement.
If an election is held, it must be done within 120 days from today. If a runoff is required, it must be held within 56 days of the primary election.
The Board of Supervisors will be holding a meeting on Tuesday, March 5 at 9 a.m. At the meeting, the Board will hear from County staff about options for filling the vacancy. The meeting will also provide an opportunity for public comment.