The Santa Clara County District Attorney charged a disgraced former county supervisor with a new allegation Wednesday, using the politician's DNA to link him to false impersonation during a San Jose city council race in 2010.
That's when prosecutors say George Shirakawa Jr. - who has admitted that he battles a gambling addiction and depression - sent out a fraudulent flier linking a council candidate with being a Communist from Vietnam.
The 51-year-old Shirakawa, who used to be president of the board of supervisors, was linked to the flier by a DNA test on a stamp.
MORE: The Complaint Against George Shirakawa Jr. (PDF)
DA Jeff Rosen's newest allegation added another blow to Shirakawa's already long list of convictions in a widely publicized corruption case that broke this spring. An election was held Tuesday night to replace him in District 2, which he resigned from after he was charged. A runoff election will be held July 30 because there was no clear majority winner.
"It is illegal and wrong to politically defame your adversary," Rosen said, adding that "freedom of speech " is paramount in this country and that tricking voters is an egregious act.
Shirakawa was not at the news conference and not available for immediate response. After he was charged in March, he issued an apologetic statement about his demons.
While DNA samples usually link suspects to crimes such as rape, burglary and murder, in this case, Shirakawa's DNA samples were used to allegedly link him to an illegal political hit piece mailed out three years ago. Rosen said using DNA in this type of political case is the first of its kind in the county.
The race was between between San Jose city council candidates, Xaviar Campos, who used to be Shirakawa's aide, and Magalena Carrasco, who lost by a slim margin.
At the news conference, Rosen displayed the ad on an easel, showing how the mailer labeled Carrasco as a Communist - a major deal in San Jose, where many Vietnamese fled a communist regime and hold awful memories of that form of government. The flier showed a photo of Carrasco next to a flag of North Vietnam, adopted by the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
A similar image was circulated against another Shirakawa opponent during a board of supervisors race in 2008. Rosen said the ad was created to look as though it came from a San Jose city council candidate touting an affiliation to the Communist regime of Vietnam.
At the time, Carrasco denied that her campaign committee had anything to do with it. When Shirakawa was charged in March with 12 felony counts, his DNA was taken, and prosecutors say his cells were later found found on the flier.
This new charge throws into question how Shirakawa Jr. will be sentenced on Friday . That date was set after he had pleaded guilty to 12 counts of corruption and theft of public funds, with an agreement to spend no more than a year in county jail. Rosen said he will ask for more jail time. If convicted on this new charge, he faces a maximum of three years.