Shirakawa Pleads Guilty to All Charges

Hands loosely clenched, the thumb on George Shirakawa, Jr.’s right hand nervously rubbed back and forth across the inside of his index finger, as Judge Philip H. Pennypacker read the charges against the disgraced former county supervisor.

“Guilty, your honor,” Shirakawa said Monday, announcing the same plea after each of the 12 criminal charges against him, which include five felonies—four for perjury and one for misappropriation of public funds—and seven misdemeanors.

In his conditional plea deal with the District Attorney’s Office, Shirakawa will avoid state prison, pay $6,812.09 in restitution to the county for inappropriate charges on his county P-Card, and $50,000 in fines to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). While the maximum penalty for Shirakawa’s crimes would allow for a prison sentence of up to eight years, the DA will push for a year in county jail.

Throughout the 30-minute hearing, Shirakawa, wearing a dark pin-striped suit with faint red lines, shuffled side to side as he stood next to his attorney, John Williams.

After the judge and prosecutor Karyn Sinunu-Towery agreed to reconvene on April 30 to set a sentencing date, most likely for early May, Shirakawa quickly exited the courtroom with Williams and ascended a flight of stairs to exit the building.

Shirakawa took out his phone as he walked by the courthouse’s metal detectors and appeared to make a call. Refusing to say a word as reporters asked him where he got the cash to gamble as well as funnel money into campaign accounts, which helped cover his tracks for years, Shirakawa then jumped into a dark gray Chevrolet Tahoe.

Sinunu-Towery addressed reporters outside the courthouse moments later, announcing that Shirakawa’s attorney provided documents to the DA that suggest the former supervisor won roughly $400,000 in one casino visit, which is how he was able to make cash deposits into his school board and supervisor campaign accounts.

“We’re going to check that out and get back to you on that,” Sinunu-Towery said.

As part of his plea deal, Shirakawa can no longer own a gun. Sinunu-Towery said he surrendered four weapons Monday morning that were noted in his 2011 personal bankruptcy filing.

The full extent of Shirakawa’s illegal activity is still unknown, but prosecutors intend to keep digging until his sentencing date.

“He wronged the community and he wronged his contributors,” Sinunu-Towery said. “This is a terrible black mark on our community. We need to have open and transparent government. We need to have squeaky-clean government in Santa Clara County. And, so, he deserves to be punished for what he did to our reputation.”

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


  1. What’s up with Shirakawa being prevented from owing guns?  That seems so unrelated to what we’ve come to know from the media.  Is there another story here?

    • S.,

      Read the Ca State Code, felons are disallowed to carry weapons, concealed or otherwise.  Moreover, being a felon, I suspect he’ll lose the right to both vote and hold public office.  Assuming that happens, he could live in a town of one, and not being permitted to vote for himself, he would handily lose the election. 

      But perhaps his everlasting champions, Cindista Chavez and Xavier Chavez could vote for him.  Uh, somebody would undoubtedly have to read the ballot language to them, however.  And maybe big sis, Nora, could assist him in voting, although I hazard she could and, so would have her hubby, Mr. Campos help Xavier out.

      • I thought the language in the article was odd:

        “As part of his plea deal, Shirakawa can no longer own a gun.”

        Why would that be part of a plea deal if it was already covered under the Penal Code?

  2. @Aware D5…..this politician deserves the max sentencing, this politician should go to prision.  It won’t happen, because he is a politician.  Different rules for those that are rich and politically connected.  If it was you or me, we would be in jail awaiting our max prison sentence….politics and the law, you gotta love it….not

  3. If you think Mr. Shirakawa deserves more than one year in jail, contact the County’s probation department to determine the probation officer who is preparing the probation report with the probation department’s recommended sentence.  You can write a letter/e-mail (which will be public as part of the report) stating your reasons why Mr. Shirakawa deserves a longer sentence.  Judges do read the report with the letters and have thrown out deals if seen as too lenient.

  4. Now that its been PROVEN there is corruption going on in this county WE MUST ADDRESS the rest of the corruption that is going on with Judges, Government and Lawyers who should be protecting the public. Please help EXPOSE what’s going on see
    The FBI and DOJ need to all be involved to clean out the SCUM that we’ve allowed as Mayor’s, Police chiefs and authorities who are abusing the disabled and seniors because their WEAK and DEFENSLESS. Please join facebook and network if your’re a victim or have been affected by the huge Corruption going on in California today See

  5. Considering Charles Rufus Reed also stole public money and then repaid it (but was never charged, even after admitting it), I’d say a year in jail is about we can hope for.

  6. The DA will forever damage his personal reputation and his office’s reputation if he does not push for the maximum penalty allowed and not settle for the measly 1 year county jail time.  The public demands explanation and unless his plea includes full disclosure of where the money came from and sources of potentially conflicts with lobbyist then he should have to suffer the full consequences.  The public suffers the full consequence of his embezzlement of tax payer money.

    Someone please take away his bankruptcy protection too because he should not get any forgiveness of debt when he stole and gambled and still refuses to come completely clean.  It is so tiresome to keep hearing his crew singing the sad story of addiction for him.  Addiction has consequences.  Society does not let drunk drivers who cause mayhem on the roads walk away with a slap on the wrist regardless of alcoholism being the cause. 

    DA Rosen you have one chance to get this right DO NOT FAIL THE PUBLIC.  I for one as a voter will not be as forgiving of your office if you do.  This reeks of further cover up and corruption.  Bought votes by lobbyist who fed money to him for his gambling.

    • Society will imprison a person having caused no mayhem not even having broken a law whilst he is walking into his home for driving drunk.  Example: Officer see’s a man leave a bar and get into his car and follows him home… etc. etc. etc.

      The man loses his vehicle, probably his job, and his family too if he can no longer support them because of this.  I’m not condoning driving drunk but there are cases like this throughout the DUI industry.  I’m actually in agreement with you with respect to Shirikawa should face stiffer penalties.  My logic dictates, and keep in mind I’m just another irrepressible Cortese family member, that if you’re trying to get a plea bargain, you obstructing justice, and isn’t that a crime too?  A year in county jail is an obscene gesture to the public.

      • It sure is an obscene gesture to the public.  At this point I expect nothing more from Shirakawa he has proven himself to be a liar, thief, fraud and overall despicable person.  I am newly disgusted with DA Rosen for this deal that basically screws the public trust yet again. At least Ms Sinunu appears to have some teeth, maybe she’ll take on Rosen and the public will have the chance to vote for a DA that has our interests in mind and will actually work to punish the criminals to the extent of the law and get them all out of our way.

        All of those Shirakawa apologists and co-conspirators will not be deterred by this measly slap on the wrist.

    • Please keep in mind that, by pleading guilty, Mr Shirakawa has saved Santa Clara County the costs associated with a criminal trial. That deserves to be acknowledged when considering his sentence.

    • Shirikawa filed for bankruptcy which would imply he has very little assets to buy away his transgressions.  Even if his house was valued at a million dollars or more it would not be enough (as bankruptcy has implied) because bankruptcy is to protect you from your creditors while allowing you the time needed to restructure your assets so you can presumably continue paying off your creditors.

      This could actually be a a sign of why the deal was made, not that it would justify a lower sentence, but rather Big George may owe too many people so much money it may be in the interest of the public to keep him out of jail so he can pay off his debts.  Seven years in jail and he comes out with a clean credit report…  Catch my drift?

  7. You people are very narrow sighted. Do you really believe Shirakawa pled guilty to multiple felonies and got a year in county for nothing in return. Oh yes there are a lot of LOCAL SJ politicians that are squeaming right now. They are probably trying to figure out how they will spin the evidence that Shirakawa most likely handed over in a plea deal. Yes be scared SJ politicians be scared. Your scam and thievery is up. Maybe the big 5 contractors will kick into the the kitty for their defense fund.

    • If you are correct then the DA should indicate that and go after the other criminal conspirators.  No one should be above the law in this mess.  They’ve stolen money but more importantly they’ve stolen the trust of the people.  Politicians who betray the public should be hung out to dry (and their lobbyists too!)

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