Longtime Santa Clara County sheriff steps down amid corruption trial
Prosecutors in the state of California say they’ve charged 10 people in what is expected to be a wide-ranging corruption investigation involving county officials and a sheriff’s office that has been under federal investigation since 2011.
The 10 have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering in connection with the alleged kickback scheme involving Santa Clara County. They are all expected to receive a later-than-anticipated release from custody while their cases play out in court.
Sheriff’s Office records show that Deputy James Burroughs was removed from the sheriff’s office in February 2011 after an internal investigation revealed he had been spending more than $1,000 on personal items while on duty.
That’s when Burroughs’ boss, Sheriff Clarence Jordan, stepped down amid an ongoing corruption investigation involving his department, the sheriff, the county Board of Supervisors and the city of Santa Clara.
It was during that time that Burroughs allegedly ran up a $13,000 tab at a restaurant and restaurant employee, according to Santa Clara County Superior Court records.
He was eventually terminated by the sheriff’s department in January 2011, a year after police arrested him and charged him with conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.
When Burroughs was indicted, he was working for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office in another part of the county.
No other law enforcement members have been charged in the case.
Burroughs now faces allegations of taking kickbacks as a deputy sheriff while working as a part-time supervisor for the sheriff’s department.
During a press conference on Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California called the alleged scheme a “dastardly scheme” that involved a “sophisticated corruption scheme.”
And they said it cost taxpayers millions of dollars. In a statement, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division said, “This case should remind anyone that our laws against corruption in government are strong.”
The case is “a prime example of a criminal enterprise in which public money was improperly used to benefit friends and family,” Caldwell said.
“I am pleased the FBI has identified the Sheriff’s Office as the object of their investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of