The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday morning to hold a special election on June 4 that will cost $1 million to replace a supervisor charged with embezzling money to feed his gambling addiction.
The vote comes in the wake of Friday's resignation of George Shirakawa Jr., who prosecutors charged with four felony counts of perjury, and one felony count of misappropriation of public funds. He was also charged with seven misdemeanor for failing to file accurate reports.
Prosecutors allege that Shirakawa Jr. 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. He had been supervisor of District 2, a post he had held since 2008.
District Attorney Jeff Rosen is seeking a maximum penalty of one year in jail.
Board President Ken Yeager will fill in for Shirakawa Jr. until the election. He said an appointment wasn't an option to fill the post because the, board needed transparency.
"Holding a special election is the best solution to provide stability for District 2," said President Ken Yeager, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. "In the interim, the President’s office with the support from the other Board offices will be available to assist District 2 residents."
Shirakawa Jr. was not at the meeting and his picture has been taken down from the board of supervisor's wall. In a statement last week, he acknowledged his serious problems.
"For years, I have suffered from depression and a gambling addiction," Shirakawa Jr. 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."