O'Connor Adds Further Details To Account of Gaming Misfortunes

Maureen O’Connor says family members and friends tried to intercede, but that she wasn't cooperating

The former San Diego mayor whose compulsive gambling turned her into a criminal court defendant is now sharing more of her shocking, tragic story.

After years of keeping a low profile, Maureen O'Connor’s life exploded last week in a maelstrom of worldwide notoriety.

She drew widespread sympathy — and some scorn — for a spiraling, video-poker addiction that depleted her fortune and put her in shame.
O’Connor says family members and friends tried to intercede, but that she wasn't cooperating.

“A lot of times while I was doing it, it was real grief because I lost my parents, my husband, siblings, best friends,” O’Connor recalled in an interview Wednesday with NBC 7. “So I rationalized by saying I could get into what I called 'The Blue Nowhere', and my problems would go away.  But they didn't.  It just compounded it."
The 66-year-old O'Connor is in now brittle health, two years after the removal of a brain tumor — and what she says was her last wager.
By all accounts, she blew through an estimated $50 million estate left by her late husband and $2 million in un-repaid loans from his charitable foundation.
She’s said to have lost $13 million on a total betting volume of a couple billion in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and, mainly, local tribal casinos.

"Would I have liked NOT to have done it?  Yes.  But … money was never my priority in life," O’Connor said. "And so maybe that was a problem, because at a time in my life where I was having a lot of stress, then that relieved it."
O'Connor is concerned about her legacy beyond her public service career that included six years as mayor, two terms as a City Council member and stints on the Port Commission and Metro Transit board.
She says she's still got more to offer society.

"I would like to help those that have a gambling problem like myself; I would like to help the families who have to deal with a brain tumor of a loved one," O’Connor said.

"I think I have the ability to work with both those groups, to share what I've gone through in a very public way … so maybe I was put here in a very public way to discuss it and say: 'What are we going to do about it?’ … It’s just a different kind of service."

Eugene Iredale, O'Connor's attorney, says she's about to execute a promissory note assigning — to her late husband's charity foundation — her half-share of potential proceeds from a $7 million lawsuit over a Mendocino hotel she sold years ago.
Repayment of the outstanding debts was a condition that federal prosecutors required of her, in an agreement offering not to press a money laundering case against her for two years – at which time her case will be re-evaluated.

Contact Us