Dorian Hargrove 12:47 p.m., May 19
"Mayor Mo" stole $2 million from late husband's foundation
She made, then lost $1 billion in gambling, lost even more, and plundered funds
Maureen O'Connor, mayor of San Diego from 1986 to 1992, entered into a "deferred prosecution" agreement today (Feb. 14) for plundering $2.088 million from a foundation set up by her late husband, Robert O. Peterson. She was a trustee of the foundation and prohibited from receiving its funds. She took the money to cover gambling debts. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, she made $1 billion between 2000 and 2009 at casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and San Diego. But then she lost that sum and even more (not unusual in gambling) and by 2008 had large outstanding debts at casinos. Between 2008 and 2009, she misappropriated more than $2 million from the foundation, and initially characterized the sum as loans. And, says the U.S. Attorney's office, she continued gambling. The foundation went bankrupt.
In 2011, surgeons removed a large tumor from her brain, She suffered complications including a pulmonary embolism and cognitive impairment. She was found competent to enter into the deferred prosecution agreement, but all parties agreed that it would be improbable or impossible that she could be brought to trial. She agreed to pay back the money to the foundation and undergo treatment for gambling addiction. (Full disclosure: I learned in 2011 of the brain tumor, but had received the information off-the-record and could not reveal it. I talked briefly with her that year and haven't talked with her since. Although she had earlier been a good source of mine, from 2003 to 2011, she almost never returned my calls. I had no knowledge of the gambling problem.)