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Golding, Silberman to Divorce After Seven Years of Marriage

TIMES STAFF WRITER

San Diego County Supervisor Susan Golding, preparing a campaign to become San Diego’s next mayor, announced Tuesday that she and jailed financier Richard T. Silberman have agreed to end their seven-year marriage.

Both Golding and Silberman released terse public statements explaining their intention to dissolve their marriage. George Gorton, who heads a Golding exploratory campaign committee for mayor, said the couple filed for divorce in San Diego on Tuesday.

Golding, 46, was traveling outside the state with her son Sam Golding and was unavailable for comment, Gorton said. Silberman, 62, who is serving a 46-month federal prison sentence in Boron for laundering what he believed was drug money, could not be reached either.

In a statement released through attorney Jeffrey Silberman, his son, Silberman accepted blame for the breakup of the marriage.

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“Unfortunately, I was not always truthful with her regarding critical and vital aspects of my life, and I know I am responsible for the changes in our relationship,” according to the statement.

Silberman, a former top aide to Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in August, 1990, to a single felony count of conspiring to launder cash that he thought came from drug sales. He was arrested at a Mission Bay hotel in April, 1989, in an FBI sting.

Silberman had agreed to launder $300,000 that an undercover FBI agent had characterized as proceeds from Colombian drug trafficking. Before Silberman’s guilty plea, both he and Golding had repeatedly proclaimed his innocence.

Golding’s attorney, Robert Wood, released a statement on her behalf in which she expressed sadness over the breakup.

“The past 2 1/2 years have been a very difficult time in our personal lives. Throughout, I have attempted to separate these personal difficulties from my public life. The decision Dick and I have reached to seek dissolution of our marriage is equally personal and painful. We end this marriage with sadness and hope we will be allowed our privacy with regard to this matter,” according to the statement.

In his statement, Silberman also said the marriage had been strained by his legal problems.

“We have been separated over a year now, and the obvious strains and difficulties have led us to mutually agree that it is time to end the marriage. I will always be grateful to her,” his statement says.

The timing of the divorce raised speculation from Golding’s political opponents--who did not want to be quoted--that she decided to end the marriage now, well before the June, 1992, mayoral primary, to improve her chances of winning. Both supporters and opponents agreed that Golding’s marriage to Silberman could damage her chances for political office.

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Golding, who was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1984, and San Diego City Councilman Ron Roberts are the two leading candidates to succeed Mayor Maureen O’Connor, who is not seeking another term.

Gorton, who said he has been a close friend of Golding’s for 13 years, bristled when asked if she sought the divorce for political reasons.

“That’s kind of fairly offensive speculation. If she was going to do this for political reasons, she would have done this a long time ago, when Dick was charged or arrested. . . . It’s an agonizing personal decision that doesn’t come easy. They were very much in love,” Gorton said.

According to Gorton, Golding’s exploratory committee has raised between $60,000 and $70,000 and is soliciting endorsements.

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According to the statement released on Silberman’s behalf, both sides agreed to the divorce.

Golding’s attorney declined to discuss any financial details of the divorce, and Jeffrey Silberman did not return phone calls.

However, at his sentencing, Golding acknowledged that the once-powerful Silberman was $2.1 million in debt. In addition to his prison term, Silberman was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine.

Golding later sold the couple’s La Jolla home.

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“I’m living on my (supervisor’s) salary. Dick doesn’t have a salary,” she said at the time of Silberman’s sentencing.


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