Former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Pleads Guilty

The plea spared him a possible eight-year prison stint

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. plead guilty to 12 counts, as part of an agreement to spend no more than one year in county jail. He is now barred from holding any public office. Damian Trujillo reports.

    A former Santa Clara County supervisor and a longtime public servant of the South Bay - recently marred by allegations of stealing to pay off his gambling addiction - entered a guilty plea on Monday, sparing himself a possible eight-year prison stint.

    George Shirakawa Jr. plead guilty to 12 counts, as part of an agreement to spend no more than one year in county jail. He is now barred from holding any public office.

    His sentencing date is scheduled for April 30. Shirakawa declined public comment at his high-profile court hearing, arriving and leaving silently in a black pinstripe suit.

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    Hours before the district attorney was to hold a news conference Friday on his felony allegations, Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. announced his resignation, admitting that he has long battled depression and a gambling addiction. Damian Trujillo reports.

    In court, he did say, "Guilty, Your Honor" - 12 times in a clear and stoic manner - when asked by Superior Court Judge Philip Pennypacker to enter his plea.

    Shirakawa's plea was not a surprise. Hours before he was charged on March 1, the longtime public servant appologized for his behavior in a letter, which stated that he would not fight the charges.

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    George Shirakawa resigned from the Board of Supervisors after pleading guilty to several felonies related to illegal campaign and public expenditures. That leaves his East San Jose district without representation. Damian Trujillo reports.

    Those charges include: Four felony counts of perjury, one felony count of misappropriation of public fund, and seven misdemeanor counts for failing to file accurate reports. 

    Shirakawa has not given in-person interviews since the charges came to light. But he did issue an open letter when he announced his resignation from his seat representing District 2.

    "For years, I have suffered from depression and a gambling addiction," Shirakawa  wrote in his resignation letter. "Unfortunately, my gambling addiction went untreated for too long which led to bad decisions and actions that I deeply regret."

    Prosecutors allege that Shirakawa  funneled about $130,000 in campaign money in and out of his personal accounts over a five-year period, which mostly went to casinos from Southern California to Vegas. He used his county credit card and filed inaccurate reports, he acknowledged in his letter.

    Shirakawa wrote in his letter that he had paid most of the money back already, and would pay the rest as well. "The charges never should have been made," he wrote. "I apologize for my actions."

    In light of the resignation, the board of supervisors voted on March 5 to spend $1 million to hold a special election to replace Shirakawa, who was elected in 2008.

    According to his county website,  Shirakawa is one of the longest running elected leaders in Santa Clara County. He started as a Franklin McKinley School District board member in 1992, and has also served as a San Jose vice mayor and councilman, and was also board president of the East Side Union High School District board of trustees in 2007.

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