A North County politician will pay thousands of dollars in fines and spend a day in jail after pleading guilty in court on Wednesday.
Vista City Councilman Frank Lopez Jr.and his wife each pleaded guilty to failure to pay workman's comp insurance to their restaurant employees, but the accusations leading up to their pleas were even more serious.
Lopez, who has served on the Vista City Council since 2004, also owns the the Casa Linda Mexican restaurant. He was under investigation for a year and was suspected of writing hundreds of bad checks to employees.
The North County Times reported that Lopez and his wife lost tens of thousands of dollars gambling at casinos during the same time period those checks were written. In the end, however, he was only charged with failing to pay workman's comp insurance.
Lopez's attorney Ward Clay said that all of those checks were eventually paid and that his client is not required to step down from the council.
"The reality is that it really shouldn't reflect on his ability to serve as a City Councilman in the city of Vista, where he has done a lot of good for the community, and in addition, one of the things he agreed to do as a part of this resolution is 120 hours of volunteer service," Clay said Tuesday.
Lopez will also have to pay $12,000 to the state.
Vista's other City Council members were unreachable for comment on Wednesday but have made an informal request in the past for Lopez to step down.
The council's next scheduled meeting is Sept. 28.