Stockton mayor arrested, accused of playing strip poker with a minor and giving them alcohol

Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva was arrested Thursday at his youth camp on charges that he played strip poker with a minor and provided youngsters with alcohol, according to authorities.

Silva was taken into custody the day after Amador County prosecutors filed criminal charges against him based on evidence uncovered by the FBI. 

The 42-year-old mayor stands accused of one felony count of making an illegal recording and one misdemeanor count each of providing alcohol to a minor, cruelty to a child by endangering their health and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Silva, through his attorney, denied the accusations. He was released later Thursday afternoon on $20,000 bail.

The charges stem from a recent search of Silva’s cellular telephone by the FBI. Local prosecutors said they were provided with details of that search on July 26. 

Among other things, investigators found 23 photographs and four video clips relating to a youth camp, later identified as Silver Lake Camp in Amador County, according to officials. The photos and videos were taken between Aug. 3 and Aug. 9, 2015, according to prosecutors.

“In one of the video clips, it appeared that moments after the video began, the phone was set down, darkening the camera lens and thus only containing audio. That clip contains audio of a conversation between participants involved in a strip poker game that occurred in Silva's bedroom,” prosecutors said in a statement. “The conversation between the participants indicated that they were naked.”

Amador County District Attorney Todd Riebe said the strip poker game occurred in Silva’s bedroom at the camp. 

According to prosecutors, one of the participants was a 16-year-old boy. Prosecutors alleged that the audio was recorded secretly and that a “surreptitious recording clearly indicates that the participants did not want to be recorded.”

Witnesses also informed FBI agents that Silva provided alcohol to the poker game participants, all of whom were underage. Witnesses stated also that Silva had supplied alcohol and made it available to a number of underage counselors at the camp, according to  officials.

Included in the evidence were details of a prior episode in which Silva audiotaped a conversation with a Stockton city employee without their consent, officials said. Prosecutors said that another witness told investigators that Silva had cameras installed in his bedroom and at the Stockton Kid's Club.

Amador County prosecutors said the investigation is continuing.

Silva's attorney, Mark Reichel, said in a statement that the timing of the charges were suspicious. Silva faces a close runoff election in November against City Councilman Michael Tubbs.

"They have had all of this evidence for over a year,” Reichel said. “Unlimited resources have been spent on this in an effort to find something they can investigate. The timing is extremely suspicious as people will only hear half of the story before the election. He will clear his name."

Meanwhile the Stockton Police Officers Assn. has called on Silva to resign immediately. "The mayor's actions have formed not merely a dark cloud, but full fledged storm, over the mayor's ability to govern and represent the city of Stockton," the union said in a statement Thursday. 

FBI spokeswoman Gina Swankie would not comment on what prompted federal investigators to search Silva’s phone. 

In October, Silva said his cellphone and two laptop computers were confiscated by federal officials as he returned home from a trip to China. He claimed that Homeland Security officials failed to produce a search warrant for the electronics.

Thursday’s arrest is just the latest controversy to touch Silva.  

In 2012, a 19-year-old woman accused Silva of committing sexual battery a year before. No charges were filed and Silva told a local TV station that the woman was a disgruntled former employee.

A year later, then-City Manager Bob Deis sought an investigation by the San Joaquin County district attorney, claiming that Silva secretly recorded their conversations.

In 2014, the mayor was handcuffed but never arrested after a fight in a limousine. The limousine driver and passengers sued Silva, including a woman who alleged inappropriate advances by the mayor.

In 2015, a gun stolen from the mayor’s home was used to kill 13-year-old Rayshawn Harris, according to the the San Joaquin County district attorney's office. Rayshawn was shot to death Feb. 23, 2015, while he stood in his driveway. The .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol was registered to Silva.

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UPDATES:

2:50 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the district attorney.

2:25 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Silva’s lawyer.

1:25 p.m.: This article wsa updated with staff reporting. 

The article was originally published at 12:34 p.m. 

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