Local News

Former mayor took $2M from foundation

SAN DIEGO — Former Mayor Maureen O’Connor misappropriated millions of dollars from her deceased husband’s charitable foundation,  gambling away the money she took.her lawyer said Thursday.

O’Connor, 66, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors and agreed to repay the foundation within two years and to seek treatment for a gambling addiction, Eugene Iredale said at a news conference after the court hearing.

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Iredale said that O’Connor lost more than  $13 million over a 10-year period playing video poker. He said O’Connor’s compulsive gambling may have been caused by a large brain tumor that was discovered and surgically removed in 2011.

Prosecutors said that O’Connor won more than $1 billion gambling at casinos in San Diego, Las Vegas and Atlantic City between 2000 and 2009. But she lost even more over the same period, they said.

O’Connor has also undergone serious and significant medical treatment recently after a brain tumor was removed in 2011. The tumor was in an area of the brain that involves “logic, reasoning and judgment,” said O’Connor’s attorney, Eugene Iredale.

O’Connor’s husband, Jack in the Box founder Robert O. Peterson, died in 1994. She said three of her 12 siblings and two best friends have also died. O’Connor said she began to gamble heavily in 2001.

“I did borrow the money,” a tearful O’Connor said outside court after her court appearance. “I always intended to pay it back. I still intend to pay it back. I never meant to hurt the city.”

“She played video poker on machines that were programmed to pay out 80 percent of the money that was put in, so that the more you play the more you lose,” Iredale said.

In order to stay afloat financially and continue her gambling spree, O’Connor liquidated her savings, sold numerous real estate holdings and auctioned valuable personal items. She also obtained second and third mortgages on her residence in La Jolla, according to prosecutors.

O’Connor pleaded not guilty to a charge of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, which will be dismissed as long as she remains law-abiding for the next two years, gets treatment for her gambling addiction and tries to pay the money back.

All parties agreed that O’Connor’s medical condition render it highly improbable — if not impossible — that she could be brought to trial.

Attorney Maria Severson said O’Connor has a more than $7 million lawsuit pending in Superior Court against three people and a German bank over the sale of a Mendicino County hotel in 2005. If the lawsuit is successful, more than $2 million will be paid toward restitution, she said,

O’Connor was elected to the San Diego City Council at age 25 in 1971.

In 1986, she was elected mayor to serve out the term of then-Mayor Roger Hedgecock. She was re-elected to serve out a full four-year term from 1988 to 1992.

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26 Comments to “Former mayor took $2M from foundation”

    erik C said:
    February 14, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Wow just another excuse from another BAD Politician

    Beavis said:
    February 14, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    So she steals $2million and no jail time? That makes sense. Good to know that criminal politicians do not have to fear prosecution.

    Amyr said:
    February 14, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Shades of Roger Hedgecock, San Diego is becoming as corrupt as LA

    lmbowler said:
    February 14, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    Reblogged this on Bowler's Desk and commented:
    Gambling and Jack in the Box: Former mayor took $2M from foundation

    Vegas baby said:
    February 14, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Wow! I always considered the video poker the safer bet. Last time I went to Vegas I just played video poker at the bar. After three days of heavy partying, I drove home with $300 extra dollars. Time before that I played roulette and after three days of partying was down $2000. I guess whats better about video poker is the drinks are free and you can play at your own pace.

    Joe said:
    February 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    I always thought that Maureen O'Connor had questionable morals, and misappropriated large amounts of City and other funds for her pet projects

    I know this sound petty, but I love it when I am right.

    dav said:
    February 14, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    WOW! I didn't know brain tumors caused gambling addictions……. I bet on NFL at Caliente every Sunday during football season, Maybe I have a brain tumor too but it must come and go only to reappear during football season….Hmmmm…..

    ignatius ibsage said:
    February 14, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    another limosine liberal is unmasked. it once again shows how the gullible electorate can be bamboozled by do gooder rhetoric and irish mafia morals. she was a perfect example of self serving duplicity. getting off free after a multi-million dollar rip off is unconsionable. good riddance to another progressive loser.

      burbanktj said:
      February 15, 2013 at 10:55 AM

      oh gawd. would you like me to list all of the rich republicans that have been convicted of fraud/theft? No, because you would look like an idiot.

        Allenbe said:
        February 16, 2013 at 7:54 PM

        Political Party has nothing to do with why people steal. Reason #1, they think they can get away with it and if caught get a sweet deal.

    TheKingElRey said:
    February 14, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Give me a break! Ex-Mayor or not, prosecute her to the fullest extent of the law! She got caught. Time to pay the Piper

    ScrewThis said:
    February 14, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    What kind of B.S. is this! I get into a civil legal fight with an ex-landlord about my ability to sublease a house and I get a warrant with criminal charges from the D.A. over a $2000 deposit that he wanted (on top of my $2k!) and this woman gets NOTHING??? I'm sorry, but our legal system is WHACKED and CORRUPT!

      working man said:
      February 14, 2013 at 4:49 PM

      You are not rich, and you are not a gov. offical. If you are like me ypu are a working stiff and you pay the price for jerks like this and the jerks that let them go.

    Ripped said:
    February 14, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    Lock this thief up just like any other common criminal.

    Corrupt legal system said:
    February 14, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    She is a crook and loser!

    burbanktj said:
    February 15, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Why would you get jail time for stealing $2million? Our justice system is so out of whack…

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