Shirakawa Changes Mind, Pleads No Contest in Mail Fraud Case

Just hours after George Shirakawa Jr.'s attorneys filed motions for his political mail fraud trial, the ex-county supervisor reversed course and entered a no contest plea to one count of false personation.

Deputy District Attorney John Chase told San Jose Inside that Judge Ron M. Del Pozzo issued an indicated sentence late Monday afternoon that will likely result in community service. Shirakawa's decision to reverse course and avoid a trial could be a relief to several of his  political associates, most notably Xavier and Nora Campos, the East Side political siblings who have found themselves embroiled in Shirakawa's recent legal troubles.

Xavier Campos, a one-term San Jose councilman, was the beneficiary of Shirakawa's alleged mailer, which depicted Magdalena Carrasco as a proud communist to Vietnamese voters. Campos invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid prosecutors' questions about the mailer and his 2010 campaign in a 2013 grand jury hearing. He lost a council rematch to Carrasco last year.

Prosecutors have repeatedly said Nora Campos, a three-term assemblywoman and former San Jose council member, paid Shirakawa $5,000 in exchange for the mailer.

Chase has been the lead attorney for the bulk of the mail fraud case, taking over sole control of Shirakawa's prosecution—which also included Shirakawa submitting guilty pleas to unrelated campaign embezzlement charges—after the retirement of prosecutor Karyn Sinunu-Towery. He has often sparred with defense attorneys in pre-trial hearings that have been repeatedly delayed for the last year. Asked if he thought the punishment fit the crime, Chase said that's up to the judge.

"He gave a number of reasons on the record why he felt that was the appropriate punishment, and he also said as part of it he was requiring the defendant to make a statement about his responsibility for the crime to the probation officer," Chase said. "That's an extra condition he put on it.

"We don't control the punishment, so we don't express an opinion about that. He  pleaded no contest, but as part of the punishment he's going to admit his part in doing this. That satisfies me, because at one time his attorney was saying up and down his client was innocent."

Chase said that the sentencing hearing is scheduled for Friday, March 20.

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

13 Comments

    • Ya that’s nice he’s guilty. I think everyone and their hamster knows it. The problem is this is it.. This is the end. Prosecution had hoped to bring him to trial, and bring Xavier into trial, to learn enough to prove Nora was involved. There will be no further legal developments after this, unless the DA has some other evidence they’re not leading on with. It’s a little disappointing to say the least. No contest is guilty, just no civil action can be brought towards you for after the plea.

      I think this was what the author intended to convey.

      Carrasco deserves equal justice, and this still is not enough. Sure, Carrasco won the D5 seat, but went down was of a magnitude that deserves some jailtime for all involved. People that rob mailboxes to “impersonate” are usually just screwing over a single person… This screwed over every voter in D5 under a horribly nasty, and dare I even say racially provoking tactics. These people are the worst kind of racists.. They prey on racial stereotypes and fears to promote themselves. They assume the majority of people of a race will respond to various things said and mailed.

      I have known people that have defended this clown car of racists for long enough. Stop it. Realize these are the enemy, the very ones holding people down. There is no “Progressive” with any kind of racists.

      That’s all I have to say… I know I’m going to get some heat for this, but heck.. I have to strive to be a decent person. You can’t defend someone who’s done some horrible things just because they’re “your” (friend, relative, insert adjective here). You can’t take pride in a party or group of people that would do that.

      To say the least.. Seeing this in politics has been horribly disappointing. I pray it stops.

      • A “no contest” plea doesn’t preclude a civil suit. Its effect is to preserve the defendant’s ability to claim he didn’t do the action he’s accused of in the civil suit, while a guilty plea might bar the defendant from claiming innocence in a subsequent civil suit.

        Doesn’t matter a whole lot here, though, I don’t see much of a basis for a civil suit.

        • A “no contest” plea doesn’t preclude a civil suit.

          Ya you’re right, neither does a guilty or innocent. It doesn’t have to preclude it, but most cases I’ve seen people usually wait until the criminal trial finishes and a judgement or plea is entered before pursuing a civil trial. (unless the statute of limitations for civil is running out) It’s a typical strategy in courtrooms when you have money or influence to try and drag out the criminal trial as long as possible..

      • No heat coming from me…. I’m giving you a standing ovation!! This crap in San Jose has gone on for way too long. Unfortunately, a slap on the hands or community service is not a deterrent to these people.

  1. Sound like he made a deal with the prosecutor. If prosecutors were trying to get to others by prosecuting Shirakawa, they wouldn’t have made a deal would they?

  2. How disgusting. Again. The jails are full of many, many others who committed far less crimes than Shirakawa. He gets off by falling on his sword for Nora, Xavier, and the South Bay Labor Council. Oh yes, and friends in high places. Judge DelBozo, community service for a felony? Really?

  3. a. voted for Carrasco twice, because I do believe in new blood
    b. Never did like Shirakawa at all.
    c. But I need some clarification because I read this stuff and I would still vote for Carrasco, for my own reasons, not because someone enjoys making speeches about San Jose instead of asking questions.
    d. checked Campos and Carrasco money, and it seems that a lot of Carrasco money is from people that use the race card a lot, a lot, and a lot. Even the FBI looks at them.
    e.so before there is a another soapbox speech, can we ask some questions about all these people in LA with an agenda for Carrasco that seems to go beyond the agenda we voters have. Why even money coming from Nevada, why?

  4. Thanks to SJI and Metro for vigorously pursuing this story and making SJ politics a cleaner and safer place.

    Shirakawa should spend a year under house arrest, and never be allowed to even contribute to a campaign again.

    But I still think there a lot of unanswered questions here.

    The pursuit against one family by a self appointed tribune is beginning to bore me and a lot of friends. I beginning to think someone is convinced that Campos family members had something to do with Putin and the Ukraine, just a dirge of I hate Campos, is not commenting on the story. Yes, the journalism here is excellent, but the commentary seems to be focused on bad, bad, Campos, and I know what is best for SJ. Why I voted for Liccardo? Well, because his uncle Ronnie seems only to talk to people about his golf scores

  5. Perhaps when George has put all of this behind him, He will need a few bucks to live on. Seeing his memoruars would be very goood reading. Where is Lenord McKay when we need him. George must know where all the corruption and graft is buried. I’ll take 2 copies.