Xavier Campos Takes the Fifth

As deputies led George Shirakawa Jr. away last Friday to begin serving a year-long county jail term—for charges that could have sent him to state prison for up to eight years—details emerged about a suspiciously-timed contribution from powerful California Assembly leader Nora Campos.

Prosecutors now allege that the incarcerated former county supervisor engaged in a “Godfather-like” conspiracy to strongarm East Side city council candidate Magdalena Carrasco out of the 2010 race against the assemblywoman’s brother, Xavier Campos. When Shirakawa and Nora Campos failed to muscle the candidate aside, Carrasco’s opponents stole the election by branding her a sympathizer of Vietnam’s communist government in a fraudulent mailer to Vietnamese-American voters.

Xavier Campos refuses to cooperate with the legal investigation, according to grand jury transcripts exclusively obtained by Metro and San Jose Inside. Of 15 witnesses called before the late grand jury in late October, only two refused to answer questions from prosecutors and jurors: Campos and the mother of one of Shirakawa’s children, Linda Delgado, who served as treasurer to both.

In fact, after stating his name for the record, Councilman Campos refused to even say what he does for a living.

“I would like to answer the grand jury’s questions this morning,” Xavier Campos said. “I have been instructed by my attorney to assert my constitutional right not to answer any question or make any statement during today’s proceedings.”

“Are you invoking that right when I ask you your occupation?” inquired Karyn Sinunu-Towery, a top prosecutor for the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office.

“On the instructions of my attorney, I assert my right not to testify,” Campos replied.

“Is Nora Campos your sister?” Sinunu-Towery asked.

“On the instructions of my attorney, I assert my right not to testify,” the councilman repeated.

“Mr. Campos, what is your right not to testify?”

“On the instructions of my attorney, I assert my right not to testify.”

“Are you invoking your Fifth Amendment Right?”

“On the instructions of my attorney, I assert my right not to testify.”

A quick consultation with a judge prompted Xavier Campos to correctly invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination. This isn’t the first time, however, that Campos has refused to explain his role in criminal activity, which seems to surround him wherever he goes.

Before Campos went to work for Shirakawa, he served as chief operating officer of the Mexican American Community Services Agency. Short on monies to operate its network of charter schools, housing projects and social service programs, the nonprofit misappropriated $1 million from the retirement contributions of its own employees.

MACSA CEO Olivia Soza-Mendiola and Chief Financial Officer Benjamin Tan were both charged with felony grand theft and subsequently pleaded guilty. Campos, who attended meetings during which the illegal diversion of funds was discussed, was not prosecuted and has steadfastly declined media questions about the criminal activity that stripped MACSA’s teachers of retirement funds.

In 2012, 16 days after Metro first reported signs of Supervisor Shirakawa’s campaign law violations, including the failure to file statements of his political contributions and the use of funds for gambling and payments to family members, Campos scrambled to clean up his own paper trail.

Though Delgado received a paycheck as treasurer to both campaigns, she wasn’t managing the filings. Campos’ disclosure forms were delinquent by more than a year.

Trying to quietly distance himself from Shirakawa, Campos dismissed Delgado and named himself campaign treasurer. He then forgave a $10,000 loan he mysteriously provided to his campaign in October 2010 and closed the account. The source of the loan’s funds remains unknown, since Campos, who held no job after leaving his job with Shirakawa’s office, won’t discuss the matter. California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is investigating.

In June, Shirakawa faced a new felony charge after his DNA was found on stamps affixed to a political mailer that deceptively cast Campos opponent Carrasco as a communist in the days preceding the 2010 primary vote. Rather than categorically refute any role in the mail fraud scandal, Campos called the allegations a “distraction,” adding that he “never wanted to be involved in any activities that distract our city’s attention from” crime and a lack of public services. Then he fell silent. But his older sister, California Assembly speaker pro Tempore Nora Campos, and others told the grand jury enough to indict Shirakawa, and more charges could be coming.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

7 Comments

  1. “I assert my right not to testify,”

    Translation: I don’t know the Constitution well enough to cite it correctly, and I’m too stupid to remember my attorney’s exact instructions.

  2. Wow. Wow. Wow. So this clown once again has no comment?  The Eastside has no real representation because of him, he can’t comment on just about anything and tries to stay invisible because he’s terrified of the questions swirling around him because of all his shady dealings.  No Comment should have been his election slogan.  He pleads the 5th to not incriminate himself, criminals plead the 5th!  Mobsters plead the 5th!  Gang members plead the 5th!  Lifetime criminal conspirators plead the 5th!  Well Mr Campos I guess it is finally becoming quite clear who you really are.  If you didn’t want to be under the microscope, if you didn’t want to be accountable publically for your actions maybe you shouldn’t have stepping into the public arena of politics!!!

    You are a bigger joke than Shirakawa because at least with his criminal behavior he peppered it with a few good deeds.  You are absolutely useless on the council.  It seems that the Eastside Latino Democrats have yet another disgraceful family legacy.  Hang the Campos name up on the Wall of Shame with Shirakawa.  It is becoming very obvious that you and cohorts criminally conspired to “win” that election.  FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YOUR LIFE, DO THE RIGHT THING AND RESIGN.  Shirakawa’s sad saga cost tax payers over 7 million in elections, trials etc, you are a selfish and shameless failure if you drag out the obvious and do the same. TELL THE TRUTH!  ANSWER THE QUESTIONS! Then do your time in the cell beside Gorgeous George.

  3. Manny Diaz, Nora Campos, Xavier Campos, George Shirakawa.  What an illustrious 20 years we have had on the East Side.

    At least Blanca Alvarado had a shred of decency, leaving aside the ridiculous Mexican Heritage Plaza.

  4. It looks like the Campos/Shirakawa/Campos parody of The Sopranos is finally crumbling, although Livia was able to deftly distance herself and move into fancy digs at 70 West Hedding.

    Thanks for your effort Mr. Koehn.