Ralph Inzunza Goes to Prison (Soon)

Inzunza spoke to NBCSanDiego before Friday's hearing saying he was doing well and working as a consultant for non-profit agencies

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Ralph Inzunza leaves the courthouse after his conviction.

    Former San Diego City Councilman Ralph Inzunza was ordered Friday to surrender at a federal prison before the end of the month. 

    Inzunza was convicted in 2005 of taking bribes in exchange for help in repealing the “no-touch” ordinance at strip clubs.

    After the verdict, Inzunza vowed to fight to reverse the conviction.

    Former City Councilman Heads to Prison

    [DGO] Former City Councilman Heads to Prison
    He's been out on bond for six years but now former San Diego Councilman Ralph Inzunza will go to prison. Danya Bacchus reports.

    For six years, he filed appeal after appeal until his final appeal was denied Jan. 6.

    At a court hearing Friday Inzunza was ordered to surrender at the U.S. federal prison in Atwater, in Merced County, no later than Jan. 30 at 9 a.m.

    He will serve a 21 month sentence at the minimum security prison camp, with a possible 15 percent reduction for good behavior.

    He may also be allowed to serve the end portion of that sentence in a half-way house.

    The prosecutor said Inzunza should've gone to prison immediately because he had more than six years to get ready for prison.

    Judge Jeffrey Miller agreed that Inzunza should be prepared but yielded to the defense request by giving the former city leader ten days to prepare.

    Family and friends accompanied Inzunza to the hearing. He appeared fit and healthy in a blazer and kahki pants as he spoke to NBCSanDiego on the way to the courthouse.

    He said he was doing well, continuing to work, as he awaits his sentencing.

    Inzunza said he has been working as a consultant for non-profit agencies.

    Once considered an up-and-coming leader in San Diego, Inzunza's political future changed in 2003.

    Inzunza and two other San Diego City Councilmen Michael Zucchet, and Charles Lewis were indicted alongside strip club owner Michael Galardi and Galardi's lobbyist Lance Malone.

    Galardi was the owner of Cheetah’s, one of a dozen strip clubs and topless bars in his family’s $45 million adult entertainment empire.

    Galardi sent Malone to San Diego with cash and campaign donations to get council members to repeal the city’s “no touch” law. Their efforts were caught on tape by the FBI.

    A federal jury found Inzunza guilty of taking bribes in exchange for his help repealing the "no-touch" ordinance. 

    Former San Diego City Councilman Michael Zucchet was also convicted on nine charges for accepting campaign contributions in exchange for repealing the “no-touch” law. 

    In 2005, a federal judge threw out seven of those convictions and granted a new trial on one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Those two charges were eventually dropped. 

    City Councilman Charles Lewis died suddenly in August 2004 at the age of 37. The medical examiner determined Lewis' death was from a gastro-intestinal hemorrhage. The coroner's report said Lewis suffered from alcoholic hepatitis and showed a blood-alcohol level of .03 along with traces of Ibuprofen in the councilman's blood sample taken before he died.

    Malone was sentenced to three years in prison and dropped his appeal in a plea deal that combined sentences for the California case and a parallel case in Las Vegas.

    Galardi served 18 months for fraud and racketeering, a year less than his original sentence. He was awarded early release in 2009 because of his participation in an alcohol treatment program.

    At his 2007 sentencing, Galardi apologized to San Diegans for the shame he brought the city.

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