George Shirakawa Jr. remains free after his Friday hearing, at which he was scheduled to be sentenced for misusing campaign and county funds.
Judge Philip Pennypacker chose to delay sentencing the former county supervisor until at least July 19 due to a a new felony charge against Shirakawa that the District Attorney’s office filed on Wednesday. The DA alleges Shirakawa played a role in fraudulent campaign mailers sent out during the 2010 San Jose City Council race between Xavier Campos and Magdalena Carrasco. Shirakawa was connected to the mailer by an unexpected DNA match.
On Friday, Shirakawa’s attorney, John Williams, argued that the new charge should be thrown out, because the plea deal reached in the original case stated that no further charges would be brought against Shirakawa. In fact, Williams added, he might need to recuse himself if the second case were allowed to continue.
“The actions of the District Attorney have created a situation in which all persons who negotiated the original plea agreement are now potential witnesses,” Williams said. “That includes myself.” For this reason, Shirakawa brought a second counsel.
Deputy District Attorney Karyn Sinunu-Towery argued that the plea deal had nothing to do with the new charge, but Pennypacker—who said he too might also have to recuse himself—chose to wait and review the new case documents before sentencing Shirakawa.
“There was never any express agreement that this was included—ever. Even implicitly,” Sinunu-Towery said outside of court. “The record says that there’s a factual basis for this plea contained in the affidavit, and it furthermore says that no promises were made.”
John Chase, who heads up the DA’s Government Integrity Unit, came to Friday’s hearing for the new charge. “There are two questions,” he said. “We say they’re completely separate cases, but we can understand the judge wanted to handle them together.”
One of the more ambiguous comments made in court Friday was Pennypacker’s suggestion that another charge related to a former campaign treasurer of Shirakawa’s could be forthcoming. The judge cited media reports, but none specifically. Sinunu-Towery and reporters were unsure which of Shirakawa’s treasurers Pennypacker was referencing, but it most likely would include one of the people flagged by the San Jose City Clerk.