Where there’s smoke …

Selma’s city manager was arrested Wednesday on 13 embezzlment counts.  One of two sorry similarities between Selma and Stockton.

A D.A. slapped Elias, a resident of Fowler, with 13 counts of misappropriating public monies by a public officer. Here, of course, former Mayor Anthony Silva faces four felony embezzlement and money laundering counts.

“The charges stem from when Elias worked as Fowler’s city manager in 2015 and 2016,” reports the Hanford Sentinel.  “Allegedly, he used Fowler’s credit cards for personal use to make more than 100 purchases that were not for legitimate city business.”

The other similarity: some saw it coming.

“Elias was hired to serve as Selma’s city manager in April. At the time, Councilman Louis Franco expressed doubts about hiring Elias and voted against the decision … Franco declined to go into details at the time but said he had concerns over the circumstances in which Elias left his employment with Fowler.”

“Until those concerns are fully resolved, I personally think we should continue to look,” Franco said at that April meeting.

I don’t know what Franco knew or why he hung fire. But here’s what The Record knew about Silva, and published as the 2012 election neared.

My favorite line: “Though the 38-year-old Silva’s controversial past is marked by allegations of inappropriate behavior and speculation that he changes his address to run for office, he believes Stockton needs someone who is a bit of a riverboat gambler.”

In hindsight, that’s pretty rich, isn’t it? Considering the FBI’s forensic auditor testified to the Criminal Grand Jury that Silva burned through wads of money at casinos, then recovered his losses by submitting false reimburement statements to the Boys & Girls Club of Stockton.

Legally, both men are innocent until proven guilty. Politically, my takeaway is a city doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for the legal system to catch up to checkered characters who run (or apply) for office. Such people often come with a warning label of sorts. Don’t ignore the little skull and crossbones on it.

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  • Blog Author

    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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