Former Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva appeared, not in a suit and tie, but in a red jailhouse jumpsuit, as he entered a San Joaquin County Superior Courtroom in Downtown Stockton earlier this week.
Answering to six felony charges, including embezzlement, money laundering, grand theft with aggravated white collar crime enhancements, Silva entered a not guilty plea to a Grand Jury indictment.
But the crux of the arraignment centered around Silva's $1 million bail amount following an arrest at the San Francisco International Airport over the weekend. Silva posted to his Facebook page he was in South America on vacation last week.
Allen Sawyer, Silva's attorney, pointed out Silva returned to the U.S. in good faith ready to face charges and therefore should have his bail amount lowered.
"He willingly came back from South America as soon as he heard the charges were brought," Sawyer said.
However, Judge Ronald Northrup denied the bail reduction, instead agreeing with the prosecution that Silva was still a flight risk and the charges he faced were serious.
An attorney representing the Stockton Kids Club, which Silva ran, spoke on behalf of the club and positively about Silva in the courtroom and outside of it.
It still did not sway the judge.
" I've known Anthony for many years. There's never been any complaint that I know of of any wrongdoing by anybody on the board," attorney Doug Srulowitz said, who added the Kids Club is still operational, but "on a shoe string."
After the short hearing, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar and Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau, held a news conference laying out their case in a power point demonstration.
The DA alleges in the six felony counts, from January 1, 2010 to February 24, 2014, Silva defrauded and ripped off hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Stockton Kids Club.
They allege he pocketed the cash into his own personal bank account, taking control of Kids Club bank accounts and credit cards.
The DA said $2.7 million in a three year period flowed out of the Kids Club accounts in the form of "at best" 50,000 checks.
"How and where it went, we don't know," Deputy DA Robert Himelblau said.
Himelblau spoke next, standing near a rolling cart full of nearly 20 large binders of exhibits analyzed by an FBI accountant.
Himelblau showed slide after slide on a screen to the media exhibiting how Silva allegedly swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Kids Club, formerly the Boys & Girls Club of Stockton.
"He destroyed 45 years of good work at the Boys & Girls Club, a well-respected and heavily endowed institution for his own personal, ill gotten gains," District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said.
Silva allegedly used the cash on dating website filipinocupid.com. He also allegedly used the money on trips to the Philippines, South Lake Tahoe, Motel 6 and Best Buy.
Silva is also accused of what Himelblau called "double dipping." He explained employees who work at the Stockton Kids Club are paid by the Stockton Unified School District.
But, Himelblau said evidence was found that Silva also pocketed grant money given to the Kids Club by the national Boys & Girls Club.
"Then what Mr. Silva did was create a duplicate set of time cards and submitted them to the national Boys & Girl Club. That's the double dipping scheme. Those are the documents Mr. Silva signed saying he would not receive reimbursement for duplicate services," Himelblau said.
He went onto to say Silva's salary was paid exclusively from donations and fundraisers for the non-profit.
The DA's office stressed the investigation is on going and that further arrests could be made for anyone aiding and abetting.
Asked how many years Silva could serve in prison if convicted on all charges, the Deputy DA could only say "multiple years," for now.
He indicated it will be a time consuming case based on the large amount evidence and the fact the case is still ongoing. Silva could still have his bail reduced at another court date.
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