Hands loosely clenched, the thumb on George Shirakawa, Jr.’s right hand nervously rubbed back and forth across the inside of his index finger, as Judge Philip H. Pennypacker read the charges against the disgraced former county supervisor.
“Guilty, your honor,” Shirakawa said Monday, announcing the same plea after each of the 12 criminal charges against him, which include five felonies—four for perjury and one for misappropriation of public funds—and seven misdemeanors.
In his conditional plea deal with the District Attorney’s Office, Shirakawa will avoid state prison, pay $6,812.09 in restitution to the county for inappropriate charges on his county P-Card, and $50,000 in fines to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). While the maximum penalty for Shirakawa’s crimes would allow for a prison sentence of up to eight years, the DA will push for a year in county jail.
Throughout the 30-minute hearing, Shirakawa, wearing a dark pin-striped suit with faint red lines, shuffled side to side as he stood next to his attorney, John Williams.
After the judge and prosecutor Karyn Sinunu-Towery agreed to reconvene on April 30 to set a sentencing date, most likely for early May, Shirakawa quickly exited the courtroom with Williams and ascended a flight of stairs to exit the building.
Shirakawa took out his phone as he walked by the courthouse’s metal detectors and appeared to make a call. Refusing to say a word as reporters asked him where he got the cash to gamble as well as funnel money into campaign accounts, which helped cover his tracks for years, Shirakawa then jumped into a dark gray Chevrolet Tahoe.
Sinunu-Towery addressed reporters outside the courthouse moments later, announcing that Shirakawa’s attorney provided documents to the DA that suggest the former supervisor won roughly $400,000 in one casino visit, which is how he was able to make cash deposits into his school board and supervisor campaign accounts.
“We’re going to check that out and get back to you on that,” Sinunu-Towery said.
As part of his plea deal, Shirakawa can no longer own a gun. Sinunu-Towery said he surrendered four weapons Monday morning that were noted in his 2011 personal bankruptcy filing.
The full extent of Shirakawa’s illegal activity is still unknown, but prosecutors intend to keep digging until his sentencing date.
“He wronged the community and he wronged his contributors,” Sinunu-Towery said. “This is a terrible black mark on our community. We need to have open and transparent government. We need to have squeaky-clean government in Santa Clara County. And, so, he deserves to be punished for what he did to our reputation.”