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Ex-MUSD trustee fraud case now in its fourth year

Ashley Drain – the former Manteca Unified School Board Trustee convicted of election fraud – will be back in San Joaquin County Superior Court later this month to make a post-conviction motion.

Drain, who was charged with and convicted of a number of felonies stemming from the use of an improper address to become eligible to run for the school board seat, was convicted more than a year ago but has maintained her innocence and is attempting to have the conviction overturned.

She is set to appear before Judge Charlotte Orcutt on Monday, July 30, at 9 a.m. in Department 8D to the San Joaquin County Superior Judge Charlotte Court in Stockton.

The case, now in its fourth year, hit a snag during the trial when a juror who reportedly refused to deliberate with the rest of the jury was dismissed by Judge Charlotte Orcutt, and a guilty verdict was returned a short while later. That dismissed juror ended up being the lone African-American on the panel of 12, which is significant considering Drain’s attempts at having her charges dismissed citing racial bias on behalf of the San Joaquin District Attorney’s office and the court itself.

According to her case file, Drain has had at least four attorneys – two of them appointed by the court – to represent her in the case. As part of her case history, Drain’s counsel has filed a declaration of prejudice against Judge George Abdallah and sought to have the entire San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office barred from her case citing racial bias – the same defense strategy tried unsuccessfully by former Manteca Unified Trustee Sam Fant, who was convicted of providing the false addresses that Drain and Alexander Bronson used to run for the Manteca school board seats they were elected to in 2014.

Abdallah was the judge who heard Fant’s motions for the DA to recuse itself and his request to have the California Attorney General’s office take over in their place.

Drain was ultimately convicted of five counts of perjury, the false filing of a declaration of candidacy, two counts of a voter registration violation, 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, Drain 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.

The DA’s office, which offered Drain the exact same plea bargain deal that was offered to Bronson, is seeking two years in prison for her crimes.









To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.