Ex-Supe George Shirakawa Released From Jail After Serving 7 Months of 1-Year Term

Former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa was released from an Alameda County jail on May 9 after serving seven months and a day of a one-year term for perjury and misuse of public and campaign funds, a jail employee said Friday.

Shirakawa, 52, was let out of the Santa Rita Jail that day and transferred to the Santa Clara County Main Jail, the employee of the East Bay jail said.

The former president of the county Board of Supervisors was later released from the Main Jail, Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup said.

"Shirakawa is not in our custody anymore," Stenderup said. "I just can't confirm the dates, as part of criminal history."

When people are convicted in Santa Clara County and serve their sentences in a different county jail, "they are sent back to our county to be released because all of their property and stuff is housed here," Stenderup said.

Shirakawa, a one-time San Jose city councilman and school board member, started serving a one-year term in the Alameda County Jail on Nov. 8 after a judge in San Jose convicted him of four felony counts of perjury, one court of felony misuse of public funds and seven misdemeanor charges related to inaccurate government finance and campaign reports.

He agreed to plead guilty to using more than $130,000 in public and campaign funds to spend on himself and to gamble at casinos in California and Nevada.

Shirakawa also admitted to charging thousands of dollars on his county debit card without providing detailed receipts in order to cover up personal spending and buying alcohol against county regulations.

Shirakawa's lawyers requested he be transferred to the jail in Dublin because he feared that as a well-known person and politician in the San Jose area he might have difficulties with other jail inmates.

His attorney Jay Rorty said Friday that he could not confirm that his client had been released from jail.

No one answered the door Friday at Shirakawa's last known residence on Apollo Drive about a half-mile west of U.S. Highway 101 and two blocks north of the Los Lagos Golf Course in San Jose.

Meanwhile, Shirakawa is still in legal trouble in a separate on-going criminal case.

A county grand jury last October indicted him on a felony charge of falsely impersonating a candidate for San Jose City Council in order to discredit the candidate in favor of one he wanted elected.

He is accused of printing and mailing phony campaign fliers in 2010 purporting to be from Magdalena Carrasco, who was running for City Council against Xavier Campos, whom Shirakawa had endorsed.Campos, a former employee of Shirakawa, ultimately defeated Carrasco that year.

The campaign mailers included a picture of a Communist flag and were sent to voters in Council District 5 to damage Carrasco among voters of Vietnamese descent who resented the North Vietnamese communist regime, according to prosecutors.

The district attorney's office claims that its crime lab detected Shirakawa's DNA on a stamp taken from one of the mailers.

Prosecutors also reported finding evidence, including office supplies and sales receipts, in Shirakawa's home implicating him in the production of the anti-Carrasco fliers.

NBC Bay Area’s Legal Analyst Stephen Clark said Shirakawa’s felony conviction could affect the outcome of this ongoing case.

"This was a very public case, and George Shirakawa made a very public pronouncement of his guilt," Clark said. "So now, every prospective juror is going to know that he's already committed a felony. It's going to make him have a difficult time getting a fair trial because people are going to know he's already committed one felony if not more."

Rorty said he plans to defend Shirakawa by using experts to challenge the DNA evidence and research a possible change of venue request due to negative pretrial media coverage of Shirakawa in the county that could make it hard for him receive a fair trial by jury.

The next court proceeding in Superior Court in San Jose on the false impersonation case is a master calendar call on Sept. 15. Campos is seeking reelection in District 5 against Carrasco and another candidate Aaron Resendez in the June 3 primary.

For the current felony conviction, Shirakawa is required to report to a probation officer, make restitution to citizens, and stay away from gambling.

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