Former Santa Clara County sheriff guilty on all counts in civil corruption trial
SANTA CLARA — The former Sheriff David McReynolds was convicted on all counts in last month’s bribery and kickback trial, but Judge Brian Collins is allowing the former sheriff, who had taken the fall for his underlings in the corruption scandal, to keep his job to a 12-person panel of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
McReynolds, 58, the former head of the sheriff’s Office of Investigations, was found guilty Tuesday of three felonies, including conspiracy to commit extortion, perjury, and obstruction of justice. A mistrial was declared on the remaining two counts after jurors began to question witnesses about whether the former sheriff had been involved in the decision-making at the Sheriff’s Department.
The conviction follows a months-long inquiry by special prosecutor Stephen M. Daugherty that ultimately led to McReynolds’ resignation.
McReynolds was accused of seeking millions in bribes from a contractor he supervised and from law enforcement agencies that were in need of funding. Prosecutors said McReynolds promised the law enforcement agencies $100,000 in bribes and $350,000 in kickbacks if they would keep quiet on a case that was being handled by the county.
McReynolds, who maintained during his trial that he played no role in the county’s decision to approve the request for federal funds, had denied any wrongdoing.
The conviction has the potential to upend the county’s law enforcement budget, which was already facing severe cuts even before McReynolds’ criminal investigation, according to an analysis by the Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office.
The district attorney’s office, which prosecuted McReynolds, could now seek approval of a $1.2 million bond for McReynolds, who could be sentenced for the conviction to up to six years in state prison. In addition, prosecutors could seek prison time for any of McReynolds’ 18 other alleged crimes related to the corruption case.
In announcing the charges, Daugherty said that the investigation showed that McReynolds “engaged in a corrupt scheme where he used his position as a public official to further his own ends.
“The evidence was clear that the sheriff violated his oath of office,