Manteca Unified trustee Sam Fant claims that selective political prosecution is to blame for the decision by the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office to file two charges of election fraud and two charges of conspiracy against the Stockton City Council hopeful.
But the office that determines which charges get filed sees the situation a little bit differently.
According to DA spokesperson and supervising district attorney in charge of homicide cases Robert Himelblau, the charges against Fant came not as a result of his decision to run for political office, as he claims, but as a byproduct of information that was learned during the prosecution of two other former Manteca Unified School Board trustees who are believed to have falsified addresses in order to qualify for the ballot.
It was then and only then, Himelblau said – during the early hearings involving either Ashley Drain or Alexander Bronson when information was introduced to the court that pointed towards Fant – that the office made a point to launch a secondary investigation that led to the notification last week that he was being charged with those crimes.
“The District Attorney’s Office, now, as in the past, charges crimes based on the facts presented to it and the prevailing law. This office does not base decisions on race, religion, gender or political aspirations. Any suggestion otherwise is unsupported and without merit,” District Attorney Tori Verber-Salazar said in a statement. “The decision to charge is not taken lightly. In this case, the decision was made only after evidence surfaced during the course of a separate investigation; the prosecution of former Manteca Unified board members, Ashley Drain and Alexander Bronson. The proper venue to determine the facts and their truth is in court; that is where we intend to present them.”
Fant has unequivocally denied his involvement with either Bronson or Drain and claims that he never signed any document noting that he could attest to their actual address. His name appeared on both forms as a reference – even the one that Drain submitted that had the address eventually used by Bronson for residency identification, which was in another district altogether, written in and then crossed out with the supposed correct address written above it.
Both of the cases involving the other board members – who ultimately resigned their positions – are working their way through the court system. Fant said that not only will he not resign, but he will continue his campaign to represent South Stockton on the Stockton City Council and will run again in the fall for the Manteca Unified school board if he fails in that quest.
Himelblau noted that the influence of the Stockton City Council does not extend to how the District Attorney’s office or any county entity makes decisions. They have no say in their budgeting process, he added, and said that while the Board of Supervisors is based in Stockton and that’s where a large portion of the county’s crime originates, the decision on whether to prosecute cases is up to the DA’s office in particular and is not swayed by politics.
Drain has publicly come out in support of Fant, and made a strong statement that inferred racism on the part of the Manteca Unified School District.
“In the good old boy network, in Manteca Unified of all things, they can’t lynch us in a tree anymore so why not lynch us with the judicial system?” Drain said in an interview with Fox40 News. “And that’s exactly what they’re doing.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.