Shirakawa Wants Public Defender in Phony Campaign Mailer Case

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBC Bay Area
    George Shirakawa

    An attorney for former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa on Wednesday asked a judge in San Jose that a public defender take over a criminal case charging Shirakawa with creating a faked campaign mailer in 2010.

    John Williams, who is Shirakawa's lawyer in a separate political corruption case, said that Shirakawa wanted the county's Office of the Public Defender to represent him on the felony charge related to the mailer.

    Shirakawa, 51, resigned from office on March 1 as part of a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to five felony and seven misdemeanor charges for filing inaccurate government finance and campaign reports.

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    Despite entering the guilty pleas back on March 18, Shirakawa still has not been sentenced.

    His sentencing has been delayed while his lawyers fought the charge filed by the district attorney's office on June 5 related to the campaign leaflet.

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    Prosecutors charged Shirakawa with felony false impersonation, alleging he fabricated the mailer sent to voters in District 5 in San Jose to embarrass San Jose City Council candidate Magdalena Carrasco, who was running in 2010 against Xavier Campos, Shirakawa's former aide

    Campos ultimately won the election for the District 5 seat and is currently serving on the City Council.

    Superior Court Judge Rise Jones Pichon today agreed to allow Shirakawa to contact the public defender's office to see if he is eligible to be represented at no cost.

    Pichon set two hearings for Oct. 2, one to decide when Shirakawa's next court date would be on the campaign mailer case and the other to assign a judge to preside over Shirakawa's sentencing in the political corruption case.

    Shirakawa accompanied Williams to Pichon's courtroom in the Hall of Justice in San Jose and left the court without comment.

    Deputy District Attorney John Chase said after today's hearing that at least two more hearings would have to take place before Shirakawa may be sentenced.

    Shirakawa, in seeking representation from the public defender's office, is saying that he is indigent and cannot afford to pay for his legal fees, Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu-Towery said.

    "At the end the court will make that determination and decide whether he pays part or any of those attorney's fees," Sinunu-Towery said.

    "Indigent people in this county are entitled to representation from the public defender's office."

    On Friday, Judge Griffin Bonini denied a motion by Shirakawa's private attorney, Jay Rorty, to dismiss the charge about the phony mailer.

    Bonini, at Rorty's request, set today's hearing so that Shirakawa could identify a new lawyer who would represent him during future proceedings in the mailer case.

    Prosecutors have requested that Shirakawa serve up to a year in county jail on the 12 charges he pleaded guilty to in March.