STOCKTON -- Former Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva walked into a San Joaquin County courtroom wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, handcuffs and a distraught look on his face.
It’s not how Jose Nunez Sr. and Antonia Botello imagined him.
“Just a surprise. I says ‘what!’ I can’t believe it,” Nunez said.
Nunez and Botello lost their son Jose Jr. back in October 2016. Days before, they lost their niece, 3-year-old Melanie Martinez. Both were victims of gun violence.
They said Silva reached out to them, comforted them and even let them use the Stockton Kids Club for free when they needed a space for their memorials.
“When I call him, he said 'If you need something, call me,' you know,” Botello said.
The San Joaquin Count District Attorney’s Office said Silva faces serious financial crime charges. They claim he embezzled at least $74,000 from the Stockton Kids Club over the past five years, funneling the cash into his personal bank accounts.
Friend and bail bondsman, Ralph Lee White, called the charges ludicrous.
“It’s political. Trust me, it’s all the way political 'cause Anthony wouldn’t fall in line with some of the big people in Stockton,” White said.
Silva’s attorney asked the judge to lower the $1 million bail.
Doug Srulowitz, the attorney for the Stockton Kids Club, said in court that as the “victim” they do not consider Silva to be a flight risk and that his bail should be lowered.
“...and so we believe there may be a political motivation, but I don’t really know about the actual charges in this case,” Srulowitz said.
Silva pleaded not guilty to the charges, and in an unusual move, addressed the judge in court.
“I also emailed the district attorney and let her knew (sic) personally that I was coming back,” Silva stated.
FOX40 asked Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau about that email, he said they never received it.
“That would be highly unusual. He has an attorney, so we have no record of that. If he did, I don’t know where it went,” Himelblau said.
Prosecutors claim Silva used embezzled money from the Stockton Kids Club to pay for trips to South Lake Tahoe and the Philippines.
The trip to the Philippines appears to have ties to other purchases Silva made, according to the San Joaquin District Attorney's Office.
"We have on the Kids Club account an automatic payment, month-to-month payment for Filipinocupid.com," says Himelblau.
Investigators also allege Silva spent stolen money at Best Buy and Motel 6.
As for Botello and Nunez, they’ll leave the judgement up to a jury.
“You can’t judge nobody. If you got no proof to do it,” Nunez said.
Silva is expected to be back in court on Monday.
Stay with FOX40 and FOX40.com for the latest information as this story develops.