The long and drawn-out saga of the 2014 Manteca Unified school board election may soon be drawing to a close.
And a clearer understanding of what exactly happened in the cases of Alexander Bronson and Ashley Drain – both of whom unseated incumbents to earn a seat on the board but later resigned after charges of election fraud were filed by the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office – may finally be in sight.
Next week Alexander Bronson – a Lincoln High of Stockton and University of SouthernCalifornia graduate who was attempting to jumpstart his public service career by running for public office – could be called to testify once the trial of Sam Fant begins in San Joaquin Superior Court in Stockton. Bronson, who was the first to resign once charges were filed against him, accepted a plea deal in exchange for his participation with prosecutors and will be sentenced early next month.
Fant’s trial is set to begin on March 20, but according to the District Attorney’s office, the actual meat of the trial might not begin for several months. He’s being charged with two counts of election fraud and two counts of conspiracy for what investigators believe is playing a role in recruiting Bronson and Drain to run for the school board despite the fact that they lived outside of the area.
The charges against Fant, who unsuccessfully ran for Stockton City Council this past November, didn’t come until information about his involvement came to light during the initial legal proceedings against Bronson and Drain. While Bronson immediately resigned from his elected post once charges were filed against him in April of 2015, Drain maintained her innocence and remained on the board until August of that year when she ultimately resigned on the advice of her attorney at the time. Both of their positions were appointed to people who ultimately ran in the ensuing election to solidify them.
And while Fant tried unsuccessfully to have the district attorney’s office removed from the prosecution by alleging bias and misconduct – a strategy that was duplicated by Drain in October, citing racial bias – Bronson took the plea deal that was offered to him in exchange for testimony. Drain was offered the same plea deal at Bronson and even hinted that she would be willing to accept one, but ultimately turned it down and has decided to take her case to trial. She has had several attorneys represent her during that period, and the counsel changes have led to delays in the start of her actual trial.
Bronson, who like Fant, worked at the Stockton Boys and Girls Club prior to choosing to enter public life, is scheduled to be sentenced on April 7.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.