By Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – The mayor of Stockton, California, was arrested on Thursday on a felony eavesdropping charge stemming from a strip poker game he is accused of surreptitiously recording at a summer camp he hosts for disadvantaged inner-city children, prosecutors said.
Mayor Anthony Ray Silva, 41, was also charged with three misdemeanor counts – contributing to the delinquency of a minor, child endangerment and furnishing alcoholic beverages to individuals under the legal drinking age of 21, according to a criminal complaint filed in court.
Silva is accused of using his cellphone to make an audio recording of the conversation between several young people, including a 16-year-old boy, who were participating in a strip poker game with the mayor inside his cabin at the camp.
Prosecutors said in a media statement that the taped conversation indicated that the participants, who were naked, were recorded against their will.
Amador County District Attorney Todd Riebe said those involved besides the mayor included two to three females and three males, all ranging in age from 18 to 20.
The criminal complaint accuses Silva of plying six underage youths with alcohol, some of them camp counselors, according to prosecutors.
The incidents, according to prosecutors, took place last August at the Stockton Silver Lake Camp in Amador County, which lies in California Gold Country on the edge of the Sierras northeast of Stockton.
The camp is annually hosted by the mayor for about 75 underprivileged children ranging in age from five to 17, prosecutors said. Silva also has served as president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stockton for the past six years, according to his official biography.
He was elected mayor of Stockton, a city of about 300,000 east of San Francisco, in November 2012, months after the municipality filed for bankruptcy. The city emerged from bankruptcy protection in February 2015.
Neither Silva nor a lawyer was immediately available to comment. But the mayor acknowledged in a previous statement posted by a local TV station that he had been detained and had his electronic devices seized by federal agents at San Francisco International Airport last September, after returning from a mayor’s conference in China.
Silva, who is not married, was arrested by FBI agents on Thursday morning and released on $20,000 bond later in the day. His next court date has been set for Aug. 18.
If convicted of the charges against him, he could face up to three years in prison.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler, Tom Brown and Bill Rigby)