Trial Date Set for Ex-Santa Clara County Supervisor Shirakawa in Fake Mailer Case

A Superior Court judge on Wednesday set a trial date for jailed former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa, who is accused of sending fake mailers to discredit a political candidate who ran against his former aide.

Santa Clara County Judge Thang Nguyen Barrett in San Jose set April 1 for the start of the Shirakawa's trial on a felony charge of falsely impersonating the campaign of San Jose City Council candidate Magdalena Carrasco during a primary contest in 2010.

Barrett set the date at the request of Deputy District Attorney John Chase and gave Shirakawa's attorney Jay Rorty the right to file a motion prior to the date to continue the case.

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Rorty told the judge he had conflicts with a three-strikes case this month in Santa Cruz County and a murder trial in Monterey County in April and did not have enough time to prepare for a complex trial to include DNA evidence and other discovery.

He asked the judge to have the trial begin after May 19, but Chase disagreed and requested the April 1 date, saying that the prosecution had witnesses who may not be available if the case stretched to June.

Barrett, after agreeing to set the trial on April 1, made a record of remanding Shirakawa, who is already in jail, into custody on the false impersonation charge and set his bail at $50,000.

After the hearing, Chase said that he would soon begin preparing subpoenas for the witnesses he intends to call, including the 14 who testified before the grand jury that indicted Shirakawa on the charge last October.

Those on the list include San Jose City Councilman Xavier Campos, his sister, state Assemblywoman Nora Campos, and Carrasco herself, according to grand jury records.

Shirakawa, who was not present in court today, is a former supervisor board president and San Jose city councilman currently in the Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County where was assigned after being sentenced in San Jose in November to one year for his conviction for filing false government expense and campaign reports.

Chase said that Shirakawa could be released from custody from Santa Rita as early as May.

Shirakawa was also sentenced to three years probation.

Prosecutors alleged that after becoming a supervisor in 2009, Shirakawa moved more than $130,000 in and out of public and campaign accounts for personal use and to gamble at casinos in California and Nevada.

As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, he agreed to resign his District 2 county seat on March 1 and pleaded guilty on March 18 to four felony counts of perjury, one count of felony misuse of public funds and seven misdemeanors.

Then on Oct. 24, a grand jury indicted him on the false
impersonation charge after hearing the prosecution argue he created and mailed flyers labeled "Neighbors for Magdalena Carrasco for Council 2010" while Carrasco was running in the primary for City Council District 5 against Xavier Campos, a former Shirakawa aide.

Shirakawa allegedly had a picture of a North Vietnamese flag printed on the flyers, knowing it would be offensive to immigrants from South Vietnam in District 5 during the primary, in which Carrasco fell only 20 votes shy of Xavier Campos, who eventually won the seat.

Prosecutors said they have evidence linking Shirakawa to the mailers, including finding his DNA from a stamp on one of them and office supplies and sales receipts in his San Jose home implicating him in producing them.

Xavier Campos is running for reelection for his seat this year and Carrasco is also a candidate in the race.

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