New Charges Leveled Against Mayor Accused of Hosting Underage Strip Poker Game

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The former mayor of Stockton, California, pleaded not guilty to embezzlement, grand theft and money laundering on Monday, charges that were in addition to an earlier arrest for allegedly playing strip poker with minors at a youth camp, prosecutors said.

Bail for Anthony Silva, 42, was set at $1 million by a Superior Court judge, who said he posed a potential flight risk in the case.

Silva was ousted as mayor of Stockton, located in California's San Joaquin Valley breadbasket, in November after his arrest for allegedly playing and recording a game of strip poker with teens at a camp in Amador County east of Sacramento. A hearing in that case is set for Tuesday.

On Monday, San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau charged Silva with two counts of embezzlement by a public officer, two counts of grand theft and one count of money laundering, in relation to his role as a former executive director at the Stockton Kids Club. The club, formerly associated with the Boys & Girls Club of America, lost its charter in 2013 and Silva resigned under pressure.

At a news conference following Monday's court hearing, Himelblau said Silva masterminded a “double dipping” scheme from 2010 to 2014, taking a salary for himself out of grant money that was meant for employees of the Stockton Unified School District hired to mentor children at the club.

Silva’s salary was supposed to come from private donations, Salazar said. Prosecutors believe the payments totaled at least $75,000, but the investigation is ongoing and the amount could be much higher, Himelblau said.

Silva's lawyer, Allen Sawyer, said his client had donated just about the same amount to the club that he is accused of taking.

Silva was arrested on Sunday at San Francisco International Airport when he touched down from a vacation in Colombia.

In August, Silva was arrested for recording the strip poker game on his cell phone, contributing to the delinquency of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors at the youth camp.

Sawyer, who accused prosecutors of overreaching in both cases, said he would seek dismissal at Tuesday's hearing, to be conducted by telephone, of the charges related to the strip poker game. Silva pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges in that case as well.

A spokesman for the current mayor of Stockton, Michael Tubbs, had no comment on the case.

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