The message from the San Joaquin County Superior Court to Ashley Drain was quite simple.
Either show up to court on Monday, or risk getting a $25,000 bench warrant
Drain was scheduled to appear before judge Brett Morgan for a pre-preliminary hearing on Tuesday, but when she failed to appear he issued a $25,000 bench warrant that will be held until Monday pending her appearance.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 11 to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to a jury trial for the charges of election and welfare fraud stemming from her alleged misconduct when running for the Manteca Unified School Board.
She is being represented by N. Allan Sawyer – the attorney who accepted a plea deal as part of the Sheriff Baxter Dunn corruption case in 2005 and later had the mark stricken from his record when the United States Supreme Court ruled that the charge he pled to was unconstitutional. He eventually sued to get back the $20,000 fine that he paid as a result of his agreement, and was readmitted to the California Bar Association.
But Drain isn’t the only one who will see her election fraud case possibly proceed to a jury trial.
Alexander Bronson, who was also charged with voter fraud after an investigation by the California Secretary of State concluded that he and Drain had registered with addresses that they didn’t actually live at, will appear in court on Tuesday, Jan 26, for his pre-preliminary hearing. If no agreement is reached and the prosecuting district attorney chooses to proceed, he’ll be back in court on Tuesday Feb. 25 for a preliminary hearing.
An issue arose when the address that Bronson used to register as a resident to run for Manteca Unified’s Area Six seat was found to also be written on Drain’s form and then crossed out before a Weston Ranch address was written in. She had previously posted on Facebook her concerns about living in an apartment complex in Downtown Stockton that was infested with bedbugs even after she had pulled her nomination paperwork.
Despite the accusations being public prior to the election, both managed to unseat incumbents in the 2014 election cycle. As soon as charges were announced against the pair, Bronson immediately resigned while Drain hung on for several more months before ultimately walking away from the position in September. She was also facing a recall by voters, and was urged by recall organizers to resign before the district was locked-in to shoulder the burden of the cost of a special election.
According to the San Joaquin County Superior Court, Drain’s bench warrant will be formally issued if she does not show up to court on Monday, Jan. 25, at 8:30 a.m. in Department 35 of the Downtown Stockton courthouse.