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California mayor charged over game of strip poker

The mayor of a major California city is facing both misdemeanor and felony charges connected to activities at a summer camp for disadvantaged children. Stockton mayor Anthony Ray Silva is accused of covertly recording a game of strip poker played by young people at an Amador County camp in August 2015. Silva was taken into custody by federal agents on Aug. 4. He was released after posting a $20,000 bond. Charges against the 41-year-old public official include a felony eavesdropping count and misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors contributing to the delinquency of minors and child endangerment.

Prosecutors claim that Silva provided alcohol to six teens and used his cellphone to surreptitiously record a group of young people between the ages of 16 and 20 play a game of strip poker at one of the camp's cabins. Agents said that the mayor recorded what the naked young people were saying without their consent. An attorney representing Silva strenuously denied the allegations and said that he looked forward to clearing the matter up in court. He then implied that the entire operation was politically motivated.

Voters in Stockton elected Silva mayor in 2012 just months after the beleaguered San Joaquin County city had filed for bankruptcy. Silva helped to guide the city of 300,000 residents through the bankruptcy process, but he faces a challenging election run-off in November against a popular city councilman.

Most criminal cases are resolved by plea agreements, but criminal defense attorneys may prefer instead to advocate on behalf of their clients in open court when charges are malicious in nature or appear to be politically motivated. Coming to an amicable plea arrangement can also be more challenging when the offenses are serious.

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