08:43 AM PDT on Friday, August 20, 2010

Richard K. De Atley The Press-Enterprise

A preliminary hearing on charges of perjury and campaign money laundering is scheduled today for six people who are relatives of defendants in a sweeping San Jacinto political corruption indictment.

The hearing, which could last several days, is in the downtown Riverside Hall of Justice courthouse.

The six defendants are related to either San Jacinto City Councilman John Mansperger or San Jacinto Unified School District board member Nancy Ayres. They are two of nine defendants charged last year in a 155-count indictment which names four San Jacinto city council members.

Also named in the indictment is San Jacinto City Council member Jim Ayres, the husband of Nancy Ayres. Another indictee who also figures in the illegal campaign contribution matter is developer Stephen Holgate.

The hearing today is based on a complaint. It was filed after the indictment, and is separate from it. Neither the complaint nor the indictment share any defendants.

The campaign money laundering complaint charges each defendant with conspiracy, perjury, making campaign contributions under a false name, and making an unlawful contribution on another’s behalf. All have pleaded not guilty.

Four of the illegal campaign contribution defendants are related to Mansperger: his wife, Shanda Lynn Mansperger; his nephew Christopher Mason; his sister Michelle Harrison; and his sister and brother-in-law, Marcia and Kirk Mathews.

Defendants John Gehrum and Carol Gehrum are the brother and mother, respectively, of Nancy Ayres.

Prosecutors said all the defendants made illegal contributions to Jim Ayres’ failed 2006 state assembly campaign fund in November 2007, some 18 months after the political contest was over.

The six had appeared before the 2009 grand jury which handed up the indictment naming the nine corruption case defendants.

“Each defendant committed perjury … when they testified before the Grand Jury that they were the true source of the funds they contributed to Ayres for Assembly 2006 and that they each made contributions to that campaign without revealing the true source of the contribution,” said a prosecution summary prepared for the hearing.

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