Friday, July 1, 2016
[San Joaquin County] Fant hearing on election fraud charges set for August
Blog note: this article references a 2015 San Joaquin County Grand Jury report.
STOCKTON — City Council candidate Sam Fant’s preliminary hearing on felony conspiracy and election fraud charges will be held less than 11 weeks before voters cast their ballots Nov. 8.
Judge Ronald Northup scheduled the preliminary hearing for Aug. 25 during a court hearing Wednesday morning. In so doing, Northup rejected Fant’s argument that further prosecution of the case should be postponed until after Election Day.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Fant stuck by his longstanding position that he is the victim of “good old boys” and that the charges he faces are politically motivated and rooted in a harsh 2015 report by the San Joaquin County civil grand jury.
The grand jury report was based on Fant’s tenure as a Manteca Unified trustee.
“Since they could not ruin me with that, now they have brought these trumped-up conspiracy charges,” Fant, who continues to serve on the Manteca Unified board, wrote in a text message Wednesday afternoon. “I am factually innocent and look forward to proving my innocence.”
Fant’s attorney, Yolanda Huang, echoed her client’s remarks.
“We believe that this prosecution is politically motivated,” Huang said. “They’ve waited a year and a half to prosecute the case. There’s really no hurry. Now the D.A. has a fire under his rear end and he wants to get moving on this case.”
Deputy District Attorney Stephen Maier reacted tersely, initially using an expletive to respond to Huang’s comment, then saying the attorney’s remarks were “not even on my radar.”
Chief Deputy District Attorney Sherri Adams responded at greater length later in the day.
“We have handled this case in the same manner that we have handled all of our other cases,” Adams said. “We evaluate each case independently and solely on the evidence that we receive and for anyone to imply otherwise is an attempt to mislead the community.”
Fant will face Jesús Andrade in November for election to the council’s District 6 seat representing south Stockton. The 28-year-old Fant is ahead of second-place Andrade and three other candidates in district voting held June 7.
He collected 38 percent of the vote to Andrade’s 35.2 percent, with some provisional ballots still to be tallied by the San Joaquin County registrar of voters. The registrar has said final results are expected this week. The November race between Fant and Andrade will be determined by voters citywide.
Fant faces election fraud charges for his alleged role in the successful candidacies of two Manteca Unified school board members in 2014. Ashley Drain and Alexander Bronson ended up resigning only months after they took office at the beginning of 2015.
Both were hit with election fraud charges similar to those facing Fant. Drain’s trial is scheduled to begin in late July. Bronson had faced felony charges before agreeing to cooperate with law enforcement in exchange for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor. His sentencing is scheduled for October.
Fant wrote Wednesday he has been “a target of the district attorney’s office for well over a year,” linking the current case to what he called the “biased and blatantly untrue report” by the civil grand jury concerning his tenure with Manteca Unified.
He added that if “false” aspects of the report were ever to be proven to be true he would “gladly step down and withdraw my candidacy for Stockton city council.”
June 29, 2016
The Stockton Record
By Roger Phillips