Former Stockton mayor Anthony Silva pleaded no contest to a single count of conflict of interest Monday connected to money he steered to a youth club while he was mayor.
In exchange, San Joaquin County prosecutors walked away from embezzlement and other charges tied to funds meant for the now-defunct Stockton Boys & Girls Club.
Silva sent $5,000 in public mayoral discretionary fund money to youth organization Kids Club of Stockton while he was still Stockton’s mayor in 2013, the Stockton Record newspaper reported, and steered more money to the Kids Club of Stockton – money that was meant for the Boys & Girls Club, which had earlier lost its national charter. The Kids Club was formed after the Boys & Girls Club ran aground.
A San Joaquin County grand jury indicted Silva in 2017 in an alleged scheme tied to money meant for the Boys & Girls Club. San Joaquin County prosecutors announced the indictment against Silva with fanfare in March 2017, accusing the former mayor of money laundering, misappropriation of public funds and other charges between 2010 and 2014.
Prosecutors said Silva, who controlled the bank accounts for the Stockton Boys & Girls and was the club’s CEO, diverted money sent by the club’s national chapter and meant for the local chapter into other accounts.
Prosecutors also accused Silva of moving money into his personal accounts and using club credit cards to pay for vacations and maintain an account on an online dating site – all at the expense of the children the club was designed to help.
“The most economically disadvantaged children in our county – this was money meant for them – and it was taken, stolen and misused by him,” said San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said at the 2017 news conference.
Silva pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Additional embezzlement, grand theft and weapons charges followed in 2018, the Record reported. Trial dates were set, shelved, and set again before Silva and San Joaquin prosecutors began work on a deal in mid-2018, court records show.
Robert Himelblau, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted Silva, told reporters Monday the DA’s office decided to drop the bulk of the charges against the former mayor.
“It was a circumstantial evidence case that said, ‘Where did this money go to?’ ” Himelblau said, according to the Record. “There’s checks that say it went to a particular place, but we can’t find any records,” adding, “That was the problem with the entire case.”
Silva was a controversial figure in Stockton, first during a tumultuous run as mayor from 2013 to 2016, then for his legal troubles, including the embezzlement charges and a 2016 arrest out of Amador County on charges connected to a strip-poker game that foothill prosecutors said he held with teenagers at his Mayor’s Youth Camp in 2015.
He faced a felony charge of recording confidential communications in the Amador case as well as misdemeanors of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, furnishing alcohol to a minor and child endangerment.
Silva took a deal in the 2015 case. He pleaded no contest to the alcohol charge and was slapped with an order to stay away from the minors who drank alcohol at the camp. Silva was sentenced to a year of probation and 40 hours of community service, but was arrested in March 2018 for allegedly possessing a firearm in violation of the Amador court’s order.
On Monday, Silva was by turns defiant and contrite in a Facebook entry reposted by the Record. Silva, photographed seated in a diner with his young son, Aurelius, 18 months, blamed local media for portraying him as “a big-time criminal and villain,” and apologized for the money he sent to the Kids Club.
“Today, it’s finally over. I want to make it clear that I never stole and (sic) money and I have never hurt anyone! All of the charges have been DISMISSED except for one,” he wrote in the post, adding of the money sent to the Kids Club, “I made a mistake and I’m sorry.”
Silva returns July 29 to a Stockton courtroom before San Joaquin Superior Court Judge Charlotte Orcutt. He faces a maximum 180 days in San Joaquin County Jail at the July sentencing date.