DA: Shirakawa Will Plead Guilty

District Attorney Jeff Rosen said at a press conference this afternoon that George Shirakawa has agreed to plead guilty to all 12 felony and misdemeanor charges, and that his resignation as county supervisor was in response to the discussions between his office and Shirakawa’s attorney. The prosecutor will seek jail time of up to one year. “Jail. I don’t mean picking up trash or weekend work,” Rosen clarified.

Assistant District Attorney Karen Sinunu-Towery detailed the transactions of a secret bank account that Shirakawa opened, which she called a “slush fund.” The supervisor deposited campaign funds into the secret account and used the monies from contributors to finance his gambling activities at casinos. Shirakawa, who self-surrendered to the county jail for booking Friday morning, moved more than $130,000 in and out of campaign accounts and public money accounts for personal use in the last five years, according to an affidavit. He is being represented by noted criminal attorney John Williams.

In a statement announcing his resignation Friday, Shirakawa said he will plead guilty to all charges on March 18.

Sinunu-Towery went through Shirakawa’s procurement card abuse in Friday’s press conference, in which he charged food, alcohol and travel purchases to the county and then failed to turn in detailed receipts. “Unfortunately, the county only gave these cursory looks,” Sinunu-Towery said. She added that some people left the auditor’s office “because they were uncomfortable” with the county’s failure to rein in the supervisor’s spending. “Since the county didn’t correct it, [other auditors] thought it was okay,” she added.

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission has also fined the former supervisor $50,000, and Shirakawa owes $6,812 in restitution to the county for improperly used funds. This is Rosen’s largest political integrity case since being elected district attorney in 2010. He plans to run for re-election next year.

Rosen said the biggest surprise in the scandal is “that it went on for so long, and the systems the county had in place were not able to detect this.”

In 2010, Shirakawa closed his “Shirakawa for Supervisor” campaign account, started in 2007, and opened a new account with Wells Fargo bank under the same name. The difference in this new account, however, is that Shirakawa kept it secret and used it as a “slush fund” to funnel contributions to his gambling habit.

While Shirakawa had Paz Rocha—father of San Jose councilman Don Rocha—and the mother of one of his children, Linda Delgado, serve as treasurers on his school board and supervisor campaigns, there is no documentation that shows anyone besides Shirakawa was aware of the slush fund, according to prosecutors. The DA synopsis quotes Shirakawa from Metro’s first investigative report saying, “You always have a treasurer in name, and they do a little help. Some people have a treasurer, but I like doing as much as I can, because it’s my responsibility. Plus I like doing it.” Shirakawa’s chief of staff, Eddie Garcia, confirmed to the DA’s office that Shirakawa made the statement.

Shirakawa reportedly funneled $18,020 into his 2008 supervisor campaign between July and December of that year, and spent $17,541 in checks and cash withdrawls, most of which occurred at casinos.

This story will continue to be updated. The following are links to the affidavit, complaint and DA press release.


  1. Does his bankruptcy filing protect him and his assets from being held accountable for the funds he stole?

    One year in jail is not nearly enough for his crime and betrayal of the public trust.  Any pending charges for staff or campaign officers who were responsible for the finances of his office or do they get to skate away like Xavier Campos did from the MACSA embezzlement of millions?

    DA Rosen should get tougher on these criminal politicos who think they’re above the law and untouchable.

  2. This is a good step, but not a home run. Who gave him money, and what resulting benefit did they enjoy? Who ponied up his six figure bail? (He’s bankrupt, remember?) After jail time, will he enjoy his generous public pension, or can that account be confiscated as “restitution” for the massive amounts of public money he has cost the residents of Santa Clara County? Don’t forget folks, George is an admitted criminal, not a victim!

  3. So, what’s the rest of the story?

    How did Shirakawa become a supervisor?

    Did he just walk into the offices one day and start doing the job?

    Is Shirakawa the Santa Clara County reincarnation of Craig Livingstone, the Clinton White House security director whom know one seemed to know who hired or how he got the job?

    Did Shirakawa have a resume?  Did he have supporters? Did he have a godfather?

    Did he have a campaign? Did he have contributors?

    Did he have political allies?

    Did he have fixers?  Did he have friends in high places?

    Did he have endorsements?

    Did he do favors for other politicians?

    Did other politicians do favors for him?

    What did he vote on as a supervisor?

    What were his hobby horse issues as a supervisor?

    Was he the deciding vote on any important issues?

    Who benefitted from his votes as a supervisor?

    Were the beneficiaries also campaign contributors?

    Shirakawa seems like the type of person who could find uses for a few extra shekels in his jeans.

    It’s not far fetched to suspect that a C-note tucked into his cleavage might have a clarifying effect on his policy judgements.

    So many questions.  So few answers.

  4. I do not look forward to seeing Mr. Shirakawa jailed. I would much prefer to see locked behind bars those elected officials and journalists who made it possible for this moron—this pale excuse for a leader, to ever even be considered for public office.

    Holding George Shirakawa responsible for the very grown-up expectations of public office is as unreasonable as is punishing a dog for relieving itself in public. Nothing in either Mr. Shirawawa’s background or in the library of canine behavior would make it reasonable to expect of them anything different. Mr. Shirakawa gained office because others put him there. He accepted it because he was too stupid to realize it was a disaster in the making; his much smarter supporters put him there because he would serve their purposes and assume all the risks.

    George Shirakawa’s political career lasted as long as it did for one reason: he was protected from having his limitations exposed and his incompetence properly reported. And only a fool would think that those protecting his political career did it for altruistic reasons. I trust I wasn’t the only who noticed how the Mercury News waited until after the fall election to join the Metro in exposing the gross malfeasance and corruption of the local Democratic Party’s clown prince. Barbara Marshman, a political operative disguised as a professional journalist, must have a whole new batch of emails to erase.

    • Perfectly stated.
      I might add that politicians of this nature tend to thrive in districts in which the role of Government is equated with that of Santa Claus.

  5. I am speaking to the tax payers for what it is worth, as a civil servant (special education teacher) I am sorry this happened. I apologize for this and other events that have rightly undermined your confidence in your government. On a personal note, next to the students and families of the students I have had the privilege to serve I consider the tax payer my boss. It many not function on a day to day basis but I look at each expenditure as how would the tax payers view it. I have even written lesson plans and given classes to my students as to what the tax payers have given to them. I can tell you they are grateful and were touched by the fact that others would give to their need.

    I consider the fact that tax payers pay me, personally sacred. I thank you and again as a public servant I am sorry for what was done, it is wrong and you have a right to be angry.

    • I commend you for your—presumably—sincere sentiments.

      How do you feel about the social and political agendas of special interests being imposed upon the education system?

      Do you recognize that these agendas are often at odds with the beliefs and policy desires of your bosses, the taxpayers?

      I’m not faulting your for NOT being a crusader, I would just like a candid statement of whether or not you recongnize that it is occurring and how you feel about it.

  6. Wow!  No wonder Shirakawa’s resignation statement was so contrite.  They really had him by the you-know-what.  He’s lucky to get off with just a year in jail.

    Assistant DA Sinunu-Towery had some interesting comments on the County’s oversight of P-Card expenses.  Jeff Smith deserves some heat for the job he did with that.

  7. Those of you with unanswered questions are unlikely to get them answered.  Now that Shirakawa is no longer a public servant, I’m going to guess he is no longer bound by the rules regarding gifts and disclosures.  He can accept “gifts” up to the $14,000, gift tax limit, from anyone and everyone with no disclose.

    If you’re someone that has something to hide, why wouldn’t you want to “help” poor George Shirakawa now?  I’m sure you’d be repaid many times over.

  8. You have read my posts about Georgie, on san Jose Inside.
    I recall when my dear friend George senior past, it was some one , that insisted that George’s son would take the helm. It was at that moment, that I felt that georgie Jr was not ready to take on the responsibility.
    Who did that to our system. I’m sure it is all there. Some one needed him there , who was that?
      The long and the short, is that, there will never be another PCard incident.
      We all know who the rascals are, we just don’t want to get taken down for being the ones to shout , “No Mas”!
    I expect that the ones that printed all of the ink to sell news papers, will be the one’s to take down
    the politicions that have done the worst of the worst. All it takes is a call! We can give you all the direction to follow the money!
    We will know what
      The zeal that, was exibited setting the dogs on Georgie,should continue to other politicions!
    Especially the ones that were in ofice 20 years, ago.
    the Village Black Smith

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