AMADOR COUNTY -- Embattled Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva scored a big win in court Tuesday morning, as a judge reduced the felony charge of which the mayor is accused to a misdemeanor.
Silva now faces four misdemeanors in relation to accusations that he illegally recorded a game of strip poker played among teenage camp counselors at his Stockton kids camp in Amador County back in 2015 and contributed to the delinquency of minors by providing alcohol to them, all of which Silva steadfastly denies.
“Obviously, I'm pleased with this juncture in the case. Today's decision to drop the felony down," Silva said following the hearing.
Still Silva maintains the charge and the three other misdemeanors he faces are all politically trumped up to hurt his re-election bid for mayor.
"Would it affect your life, would it affect your family if anybody is charged of something they didn't do? Would it affect you? And you'll have to answer that question yourself,” said Silva when asked whether he thought the implication of his being in the room while the teens played strip poker would have an effect on his campaign.
"There's not one example in the state of California where this has ever been done the way they've done it. And they did it for one single purpose, because it allowed them right before an election to take the mayor and arrest him in front of children,” said Allen Sawyer, Silva’s attorney.
Sawyer argued in court that in most cases recording someone without their knowledge is handled as a misdemeanor unless they release the recording publicly, violating the privacy of those recorded. His attorney says the mayor, on the other hand, never meant for the tape to become public.
Amador County Assistant District Attorney Robert Trudgen says the subject matter of the recording was sexual in nature, and given that Silva has been reprimanded for illegally recording communication in the past, the judge should consider the offense as a felony.
The judge sided with Silva.
"The judge is going to rule the way he sees fit…I have no choice but to respect what he says,” said Trudgen.
Tuesday’s hearing began with a dispute between the two sides over evidence taken from one of the camp counselor’s phones and whether or not it would be admissible because Silva’s attorneys hadn’t reviewed it.
The two sides were set to argue the felony versus misdemeanor charge at a different hearing and were even discussing possible dates to set to hear the arguments, but collectively decided to deal with the issue Tuesday with the judge.
"Frankly I had some fear that if we didn't argue it on the spot, there would be some allegation that we're just trying to put this off till after the election with a felony hanging over his head,” said Trudgen.
Despite the victory for Silva, he heads into a heated race to keep his seat facing four misdemeanor charges and a potential trial that could last well beyond Election Day.
Silva will be back in court on Dec. 2 for his pretrial conference. His attorneys are scheduled to have a teleconference with Amador County prosecutors Nov. 9, one day after the election.