Ashley Drain Hampton – the former Manteca Unified Trustee who was convicted last April of election fraud and other charges stemming from the use of a ringer address to qualify for the ballot – won’t see the inside of a jail cell.
San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Charlotte Orcutt sentenced Hampton – who was elected with the last name Drain but has since began using her maiden name in addition pending the outcome of divorce proceedings – to 15 months of home detention and 200 hours of community service for her decision to use an improper address in her nomination paperwork for the Manteca Unified school board in 2014. She will be eligible to pursue an alternative work program in lieu of home confinement.
Prosecutors were seeking up to two years in prison for the crimes she was convicted of, but Orcutt reportedly saw no reason to send the mother of three young children away to state prison.
The sentence came almost a full 18-months after a jury convicted her of multiple charges stemming from her involvement of what prosecutors alleged was a conspiracy involving Hampton and Alexander Bronson – who both unseated incumbents in the 2014 election – and sitting Trustee Sam Fant.
Hampton’s nomination paperwork, which was signed under penalty of perjury, included the same Manteca address that Bronson used to qualify for the ballot despite the fact that was she running to represent Weston Ranch. The address was simply crossed out with the new address written above it.
Several public Facebook posts including a video where she rails on the management of an apartment complex in Downtown Stockton made it appear that even after she submitted the paperwork to the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters she was still not living in the area that was set to represent.
Hampton was ultimately convicted of five counts of perjury, the false filing of a declaration of candidacy, two counts of a voter registration violation and two counts of fraud to obtain aid and grand theft. The district attorney prosecuting her case alleged that in addition to running for a seat on the school board for which she was not eligible, Hampton filed false paperwork to obtain more public assistance than she was entitled – a separate case that began before she ever filed her paperwork declaring her candidacy. Those violations, which were dated Feb. 1, 2014, were the root of the charge of grand theft, the two counts of fraud to obtain aid and one of the five perjury counts for which she was convicted.
While Bronson resigned immediately after charges were filed by the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office in May of 2015, Hampton waited until August before stepping away from the position – right around the time that she was served with the notice of a petition to recall her from the board.
Fant was charged in April of 2016 with two counts of election fraud and two counts of conspiracy for allegedly serving as the mastermind behind the attempt to stack the board with favorable votes. He served out the remainder of his term on the Manteca Unified School Board despite criticism, and battled the case for more than a year before he pled no contest to a felony violation of the elections code that forbade assisting somebody to be eligible to run for election when they are not legally entitled to do so.
Part of the delay in sentencing in the case stemmed from the fact that Hampton sought new counsel following her guilty verdict – one that was that was less than routine after it was disclosed that the lone holdout also happened to be the only black juror and was dismissed after fellow jurors informed Orcutt that she had refused to deliberate.
In comments made to the Stockton Record following Tuesday morning’s sentencing, Hampton said that will appeal the jury’s guilty verdict if a court-appointed appeals expert finds reasonable grounds for her to do so.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.