Ashley Drain no longer has the threat of a $25,000 failure to appear bench warrant hanging over her head.
On Monday the former Manteca Unified School District Trustee, who resigned in September months after charges of voter and welfare fraud where filed against her by the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office, appeared in San Joaquin County Superior Court in Stockton less than a week after a judge ordered her to appear and issued warrant that would be filed had she not shown up.
She’s scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 11 at 8:30 a.m. that will determine whether there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.
Drain, who ousted incumbent Manuel Medeiros in 2014 in an election that was dogged by allegations that she and fellow candidate Alexander Bronson – who ousted then Board President Don Scholl in the election – weren’t legal residents at the time that they filed their paperwork, came under fire after an investigation by the Secretary of State’s office led to the charges filed by the District Attorney’s office for not only election fraud, but welfare fraud as a result of technically not living where her benefits were being sent.
Last week a pre-preliminary hearing scheduled in Stockton ended with the judge, Brett Morgan, issuing a bench warrant for Drain’s arrest for failing to appear but held the warrant until Monday’s scheduled appearance. She remains free on her own recognizance, but will need to appear in court next month to see whether the case will ultimately makes it way to the jury.
During her time on the board, Drain became a lightning rod for controversy when an exchange between a Weston Ranch High School student and a janitor and the subsequent punishment by then-Principal Jose Fregoso became a cause that she championed as the student was a participant in her own after-school support program. Citing racial insensitivity, Drain was believed to be behind a closed-door vote on whether to oust Fregoso, who eventually resigned his position in an agreement with the district that ended with him being paid for a year while he searched for a new job.
The incident with the student took place just a week after Drain was sworn in as a trustee.
Questions arose about the legality of her candidacy when it was discovered that the form that she had submitted to the Registrar of Voters office actually had the address that Bronson used on his form written in first. The owner of that property claimed that he never lived there. A video had already surfaced showing Drain complaining about a bed bug infestation at a subsidized housing complex in Stockton was believed to be closer to Downtown Stockton than anywhere near the district in which she was ultimately elected.
Bronson is also set to appear in court next month.