Former Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva stole hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for San Joaquin County’s most economically vulnerable youths over a four-year span, laundering cash and charging trips on credit cards, San Joaquin County prosecutors said Monday. Prosecutors detailed a six-count grand jury indictment accusing Silva of money laundering, embezzlement, grand theft and misappropriation of public funds.
The alleged theft took place from 2010 to 2014 and involved money given by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to Silva, who controlled the bank accounts for the Stockton Boys & Girls Club, for use at the local club.
“A significant portion of money flowed from the Boys & Girls Club to Anthony Silva’s personal account,” said Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau, standing in front of a cart of binders that he said were records supporting the prosecutors’ case.
In other instances, the indictment alleges Silva used credit cards from the now-defunct Stockton Boys & Girls Club and the Stockton Kids Club, where he is executive director, to pay for trips to the Philippines and South Lake Tahoe as well as a recurring charge for an online dating site, Filipino Cupid.
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“The most economically disadvantaged children in our county – this was money meant for them – and it was taken, stolen and misused by him,” said District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar, addressing reporters at a news conference after Silva’s arraignment Monday. Silva pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Grant funds from San Joaquin Unified School District were also misused, prosecutors said.
“You cannot steal from the public. You cannot steal from the public’s trust and not expect to be held accountable in San Joaquin County,” Salazar said.
Silva, taken into custody at San Francisco International Airport on Sunday, appeared for the afternoon hearing before San Joaquin Superior Court Judge Ron Northup. Northup kept Silva’s bail at $1 million despite pleas from his attorney and Kids Club lawyer Douglas Srulowitz, who both asked for the former mayor to be released on his own recognizance pending a March 13 hearing.
Silva, too, spoke, saying he had returned freely from vacationing in Colombia and should be released.
Srulowitz said Silva has never posed a threat to the club, saying Silva “wants to address these issues as best he can.” Outside the courtroom, Srulowitz said the Kids Club is not a victim of financial misdeeds and said the charges against Silva “may be politically motivated.”
“I have a suspicion of who might have” brought the accusations, Srulowitz told reporters, but added that he would not speculate who.
The Kids Club is the successor to the Boys & Girls Club of Stockton. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America revoked the club’s 50-year charter in December 2013 after months of controversy involving some of its leaders, including Silva, according to the Stockton Record. Silva was chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Stockton from 2005 to 2013.
Silva unexpectedly rose to the mayor’s job on a populist theme in 2012 before enduring a turbulent four years in office as Stockton struggled to recover from the recession and a prominent bankruptcy filing.
Already facing an uphill battle for re-election last year, Silva was arrested in August on charges related to a strip-poker game at his Amador County youth camp. Under this legal cloud, he then lost the mayor’s race by more than 50 percentage points to upstart Michael Tubbs.
Prosecutors alleged that he recorded youth counselors, one a boy as young as 16, playing strip poker, and that he also provided alcohol to a minor.
In November 2016, Silva rejected a settlement offer that would have closed the criminal case against him. The felony charge against him for the illegal recording incident was reduced to a misdemeanor in October. The case is still pending.