Former California mayor Anthony Silva charged with embezzlement

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In August 2016, the mayor of Stockton, California, was accused of playing strip poker with teenagers and secretly recording them at his youth camp.

Less than a year later, Anthony Silva – now the embattled former mayor of the city in California’s San Joaquin Valley – has been hit with a slew of new charges.

Silva was arrested Sunday at San Francisco International Airport on several felony charges, including embezzlement and money laundering. He was returning from a vacation in Colombia, according to local media reports. A warrant for his arrest was issued Thursday, the day after he left the country, NBC affiliate KCRA reported.

The 42-year-old, who was voted out of office in November, is accused of misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement, grand theft, money laundering and other charges. Few details about the charges are available, but FBI agents searched Silva’s home and the Stockton Kids Club (formerly called Boys and Girls Club) last week, according to media reports. Silva used to run the Boys and Girls Club.

Authorities have not said what prompted the investigation. But the charges carry an enhancement that prosecutors use when the related felonies involve the theft of more than $100,000.

The arrest warrant lists Silva’s bail at $1 million.

Tim Daly, a spokesman for the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, said more information will be released after Silva’s arraignment Monday afternoon. The investigation, Daly said, is ongoing.

Mark Reichel, Silva’s attorney, said the search of his home and the Kids Club was “heavy-handed,” adding that his client was transparent about his plans to go on a vacation abroad, according to the Sacramento Bee.

“He should have been more appropriately summoned into court, when he could have complied,” Reichel said.

Allen Sawyer, another attorney of Silva’s, said told KCRA that his client left the country Wednesday for a vacation and was “willing” to face the charges against him.

“We should all keep an open mind. It has already been shown that things are not always as they appear,” Sawyer said, according to the Bee.

Sawyer was referring to earlier accusations in a different case against Silva.

Seven months before his airport arrest, Silva was accused of providing alcohol to minors, playing a game of strip poker and filming the game. He was charged in August with a felony of secretly recording confidential communications without consent, along with three misdemeanor charges: contributing to the delinquency of a minor, providing alcohol to people under 21 and child endangerment.

In October, while Silva was still in office, a judge reduced the felony charge to a misdemeanor, KCRA reported. The case is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Tuesday, according to an online docket.

Those alleged crimes happened in August 2015 at Silver Lake Camp in Amador County, northeast of Stockton. Investigators found 23 photographs and four video clips, one of which was made in Silva’s room at the camp and shows him playing strip poker with several of the camp’s counselors, including a 16-year-old boy, according to reports.

Prosecutors also accused him of giving alcohol to the participants of the game.

“In one of the video clips, it appeared that moments after the video began, the phone was set down, darkening the camera lens and thus only containing audio,” prosecutors said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times. “That clip contains audio of a conversation between participants involved in a strip poker game that occurred in Silva’s bedroom. The conversation between the participants indicated that they were naked.”

Silva said at a subsequent news conference that everyone at the “counselor party” was 18.

“I never, ever, ever, ever endangered a child . . . ever,” he told reporters. “I never provided alcohol to anyone, and I certainly did not secretly record anyone.”

Silva, a Republican, was elected mayor in 2012. The eccentric man who once claimed (falsely) that he was Stockton’s first black mayor lost his reelection bid in November amid the first batch of criminal accusations.

The voting wasn’t close: Silva lost by more than 40 percentage points to Michael Tubbs, who became the first black mayor of Stockton and, at 26, the youngest in the city’s history, according to his biography.

Silva’s history with controversy is well documented.

In 2012, a 19-year-old woman accused him of sexual battery, though no charges were filed.

Two years later, he got into a fight in a limousine, but he was never arrested. The driver and passengers, including a woman who accused Silva of inappropriately touching her, filed a lawsuit.

In 2015, a .40-caliber handgun that was registered to Silva was used to kill a 13-year-old, authorities said. Silva did not immediately report that his gun had been stolen.

Then, he claimed during a 2016 candidate debate hosted by Stockton’s NAACP and Black Women Organized for Political Action that he was the city’s first black mayor.

“I think I said, I’m not African American, but I’m pretty darn close,” Silva, who is white, later told a CBS affiliate. “Quite frankly, I could be determined to be the first African American mayor of Stockton.”

(The Washington Post)

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