Typically, we hear about DNA-related evidence in cases of rape or other such crimes. Rarely is DNA evidence used in cases of fraud. But, this is exactly what happened when George Shirakawa, Jr. (ex-Santa Clara County Supervisor) sent illegal campaign mailers to unsuspecting citizens of Santa Clara County in 2010. At that time, the City Council race was tight and the mailers that were sent connected former candidate Magdalena Carrasco with the Vietnamese government – and suggested that she was a communist.
Shirakawa was charged with impersonating a City Council candidate (CA Penal Code §528-§539), which could land him with a maximum $10,000 fine, one year in state prison, or both. It was dirty politics at its worst. A tight race was tipped in favor of Xavier Campos, a former aide of Shirakawa through the use of these mailers, which depicted Carrasco as not only a proponent of communism, but as proud of this fact. The end result? Carrasco went from being in second place to Campos (by a mere 20 votes) to losing a runoff by 400 votes. When the incident occurred, Carrasco complained, but her concerns were dismissed.
The matter would have ended there if Shirakawa hadn’t been arrested earlier this year on other charges (stolen campaign donations in excess of $100,000 and the theft of public monies – all to fuel his gambling addiction). Police took DNA from Shirakawa during his arrest on these charges and were then able to match it to at least one postage stamp used to mail the 2010 flyers. Needless to say, Carrasco has been vindicated, at least as far as her reputation goes. Yet, it’s an empty victory, as the election results cannot be overturned nor the election re-lived.