The simply answer is “Yes.” Mike is right. There is a very big difference between the violations charged against Mike Ramos and those against Jim Erwin.
Jim Erwin committed no crime. His original filing was the lawful and correct filing. His amended filing, which was done at the urging of Mike Ramos through Dave Ellis, was the incorrect way to report the watch and trip from Jeff Burum.
Jim was given the Rolex and trip as a “thank you” from Jeff for Jim’s help in negotiating the Colonies settlement. The $15,000 plus or minus value of the gift was far less than the value of the services Jim provided. Remember, Jim Brulte had a success fee arrangement with Colonies, where if a settlement was obtained through his efforts he would receive $250,000 for his services, and he was less involved than Jim. The arrangement expired a year earlier to the final settlement.
Under FPPC rules, if the gift is less than the value of the services received, then it does NOT have to be reported. So, therefore, Jim had no reporting requirement whatsoever. If he had no reporting requirement then it is not possible for him to have committed perjury or filing of a false document for not reporting the gifts.
Mike, on the other hand, did have a reporting requirement and failed to report $10,000 in income he gave to his wife. I think it would be hard for most of us to forget $10,000 so an “oversight” doesn’t come close to justifying what happened. The even more ludicrous argument that he believed that because his wife is a school employee he doesn’t have to report any income is beyond belief.
First, we have here a lawyer—you know, someone who is supposedly trained to read, comprehend and interpret the law. Second, we have here a district attorney who prosecutes others for FPPC violations. That fact alone raises his culpability in this matter ten-fold. If he is going to prosecute others for FPPC violations, he sure as heck better fully understand the law before he starts throwing people in jail for felonies. Anything short of a full understanding of the law is dereliction of duty and certainly should put his State Bar card in danger.
In my opinion there is clearly intent to defraud, especially if that income was not reported to the Internal Revenue Service. And if there is willful fraud then there is perjury. Both are felonies.
Based on Mike’s own standards of prosecution and the law, Mike is a felon. Jim is an innocent man, wrongly accused.