Report: Ex-mayor to be charged with money laundering
SAN DIEGO — Former San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Thursday on a single money laundering charge, and there are indications the previously unannounced case is about to be resolved, according to a published report.
The money-laundering charge the 66-year-old O’Connor faces involves engaging in a monetary transaction of $10,000 or more, with the money being laundered coming from some kind of unlawful or criminal activity, according to U-T San Diego. Specific details of O’Connor’s alleged crime were not immediately reported.
“Ms. O’Connor’s case is set on calendar for arraignment, and the matter is set for disposition,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Halpern told the newspaper. Halpern is the U.S. Attorney Office’s chief of major frauds and special prosecutions section.
O’Connor is scheduled today to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Bartick. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison, though it is unlikely she would face the maximum, according to U-T San Diego, which quoted court records.
The court information indicates that the case is being resolved before a federal grand jury indicts her, U-T San Diego reported, noting that in such cases both sides often agree to a sentence or a range of possible penalties.
O’Connor was San Diego’s first female mayor, holding the office for two terms from 1986 to 1992. The popular Democrat was a physical education teacher before entering the political arena. She sat on the City Council and the San Diego Unified Port District Commission prior to becoming mayor.
In 1977, she married Robert O. Peterson, who founded the Jack-In-The-Box fast-food chain and later Southern California First National Bank, which eventually became part of the Union Bank empire. The couple had no children, and he died in 1994.
O’Connor kept a low profile since leaving the mayor’s office but her real estate investments recently gained attention, according to U-T San Diego.
She sold the luxury Heritage House resort in Mendocino County for $19.5 million in 2005 and has since sued the German bank that provided financing for the buyers for fraud, the newspaper reported.
In 2010, O’Connor sold the La Jolla home now owned by former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for $2.5 million. The sale was a short sale, and soon after the purchase the county reassessed the property at a $4.5 million value, according to U-T San Diego.