BY RICHARD K. De ATLEY
STAFF WRITER
rdeatley@pe.com

Published: 21 October 2011 11:39 AM

Stephen R. Holgate, the developer called the “hub” of a years-long political corruption scandal that rocked the city of San Jacinto, was sentenced to nine months in jail Friday and handcuffed in court to immediately begin his term.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michele Levine also ordered Holgate to pay fines and restitution amounting to $5,000 in a sentencing that settled two criminal cases against Holgate.

Those pleas were in connection to his role in a 155-count indictment from November 2009 that charged nine defendants with bribery, illegal campaign contributions and conspiracy to hide the crimes from January 2005 to late August 2008.

Holgate, 64, a former California Highway Patrol officer and U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran with two Purple Hearts, wiped tears from his face as he listened to defense attorney Paul Grech recount his service to his country and state.

“When he served his country in Vietnam and was wounded doing so, he believed as he was doing so that he was serving democracy and the right to vote,” Grech said in a statement on Holgate’s behalf. “He has transgressed that right, and he is deeply sorry to the citizens of San Jacinto, a community that he holds dear. … He thinks the city deserves better. He is deeply sorry for what he has done.”

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Deborah Lucky said she recognized Holgate’s service to his country.

“But that’s what makes this case even worse. The defendant’s corruption of the political process in Riverside County, in the state level, and in local-level politics, is appalling,” Lucky told the judge.

‘HE WAS REALLY THE HUB’

The case was wide-ranging, the prosecutor said, and it was Holgate who brought the others into it. “He was really the hub of this case.” Lucky said.

Levine said she reviewed both the probation officer’s report for Holgate that recounted his role in the corruption scheme, as well as his service in the Marine Corps and CHP. She said she also read letters of support that cited Holgate’s community spirit and generosity to others.

The conflicting pictures of the man, Levine said, struck her as “just tragic.” She said she had no doubt that his remorse was genuine.

She said he had high principles, “But at some point you turned your back on them.”

“And I tried to make some sense out of that, and my guess is you will have to make some sense out of that as well,” she said before imposing the sentence.

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