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.