Monday, July 18, 2005 | A jury found City Councilmen Michael Zucchet and Ralph Inzunza, and strip club lobbyist Lance Malone, guilty of numerous federal criminal charges Monday for their roles in a scheme in which the councilmen accepted clandestine campaign contributions for efforts to relax a “no-touch” rule at adult entertainment clubs.
In a court room thick with tension, a clerk slowly read the verdicts on the 30-plus individual indictments as midday neared. The defendants were each found guilty on various charges of extortion and honest services wire fraud, drawing looks of anger, shock and extreme sadness from an assembled group of family members, supporters and council aides.
Zucchet was to assume the city of San Diego’s mayoral duties at a council meeting this afternoon after former Mayor Dick Murphy’s resignation became official Friday. A primary election is scheduled to select Murphy’s replacement July 26. Zucchet was accompanied to court by the mayor’s security detail.
City Attorney Mike Aguirre said in a statement that the councilmen must forfeit their offices when they are sentenced by a court or the court otherwise implements the jury’s decision. Sentencing was set for Nov. 9.
Outside the federal courthouse downtown, Inzunza defended his actions.
“I believe I have done nothing wrong,” he said.
Michael Pancer, Inzunza’s attorney, promises to appeal and Zucchet is expected to do the same.
– ANDREW DONOHUE, Voice Political Writer