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Stockton mayor denies that any minors were at strip-poker game or he gave booze to kids

Former Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva
(Associated Press)

Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva proclaimed his innocence and lashed out at authorities Friday, a day after his arrest on charges that he supplied alcohol to a minor and illegally recorded a strip-poker game at his Amador County youth camp last summer.

“No. 1, everyone there was 18 years old,” he said at a news conference Friday, speaking of what he described as a “counselor party” as he stood beside his lawyer.

“No. 2, I never, ever, ever, ever endangered a child … ever. No. 3, I never provided alcohol to anyone, and I certainly did not secretly record anyone.”

The charges stem from a search of Silva’s cellphone in which 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.

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“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,” prosecutors said in a statement. “The conversation between the participants indicated that they were naked.”

Amador County Dist. Atty. Todd Riebe said the strip poker game occurred in Silva’s bedroom at the camp. Prosecutors said one of the participants was a 16-year-old boy while others were of age, adding that the audio was recorded secretly and that a “surreptitious recording clearly indicates that the participants did not want to be recorded.”

Silva said that federal authorities illegally seized his cellphone and laptops when he returned to the United States from China in October, and that the items were handed over to a task force that was investigating him.

“A forensic examination of a lifetime of messages, emails, videos and pictures produced an audio recording of a counselor party that lasted about a minute in length,” he said.

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According to prosecutors, witnesses told FBI agents that Silva provided alcohol to the poker game participants, all of whom were younger than the legal drinking age. Witnesses stated also that Silva had supplied alcohol and made it available to a number of underage counselors at the camp, officials said.

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

The Stockton Police Officers Assn. and a councilman have both called on Silva to resign.

Silva has faced controversy before.

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In 2012, a 19-year-old woman accused him 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 claimed that Silva had secretly recorded their conversations and asked the San Joaquin County district attorney to investigate.

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

In February 2015, a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol that was registered to Silva -- and which he would report as stolen -- was used to kill 13-year-old Rayshawn Harris while he stood in his driveway, according to the San Joaquin County district attorney’s office.

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Silva on Friday said he did not immediately report the gun as stolen because authorities told him to check to make sure it had not been misplaced by house movers.

“For the past week I have been raked over the coals by the media because I owned a gun and reported it missing,” he said. “As soon as I was absolutely sure it was missing, I reported it.”

Silva denied a prosecutor’s claim that he had refused to talk to investigators at his home about the gun theft, though he said he did refer them to his lawyer.

Silva said it was “absolutely untrue that I am not willing to cooperate with the investigation to bring a young boy’s killer to justice.”

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The mayor, who is running for reelection in November, said the charges were politically motivated.

“For those of you that have been missing your episodes of ‘House of Cards,’ ‘Scandal’ or ‘Game of Thrones,’ I am sure you have been following Stockton politics the last week, and it’s also been equally as entertaining,” he said.

richard.winton@latimes.com

Twitter: @lacrimes

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