10:39 PM PDT on Friday, June 24, 2011

The Press-Entrprise

Special Section: San Jacinto Corruption Probe

Former San Jacinto School Board member Nancy Jo Ayres pleaded guilty Friday to a felony charge of falsifying a 2008 elected official’s statement by not reporting $14,000 worth of income from the San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce.

Cash to start the Chamber of Commerce had come from a $50,000 contribution by fellow indictee Stephen Holgate.

Ayres, 46,became the second of nine defendants in the San Jacinto corruption case to enter a plea this week.

Under her plea agreement she will not go to prison but could face up to 180 days in county jail, and will likely face fines and penalties for state taxes on unreported income. That tax review is not limited to the single charge to which she pleaded.

She was preceded Thursday by her husband, former San Jacinto City Council member and 2006 state Assembly candidate Jim Ayres, 49, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy, two other felonies, and three misdemeanor charges.

Both will face sentencing Aug. 12 before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michele Levine. Supervising Deputy District Attorney Deborah Lucky has said all seven remaining defendants are considering plea offers.

Levine has set a July 28 hearing date to check on developments in the plea bargains.

The indictment filed in late 2009 named Jim Ayres, Dale Stubblefield, John Mansperger and James Potts, all San Jacinto City Council members at the time, and school board member Nancy Ayres. None of them currently holds office.

It also named developers and businessmen Holgate, Scott Douglass Shaull, Robert Edward Osborne and Byron Jerry Ellison.

The defendants are charged with bribery, illegal campaign contributions and money laundering, and three of them — Jim Ayres, Holgate and Osborne — are charged with conspiracy to hide the alleged crimes from January 2005 to late August 2008.

Prosecutors said the influence peddling was for development in the San Jacinto area, and much of the hidden money also flowed into Jim Ayres’ failed state Assembly bid.

Nancy Ayres’ role in the case was greatly reduced after Levine completed a review of the case and its charges. Her charges went from 46 felonies and 96 misdemeanors to just three felonies, including a false document filing charge to which she pleaded Friday.

Prosecutors said on Aug. 7, 2008, Nancy Ayres filed a Form 700, also known as an elected official’s statement of economic interest.

She was then on the San Jacinto Unified School District board, where she was first elected in 2006. And she also was executive director of the recently established San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce, which had been financed by Holgate’s money.

Prosecutors said Nancy Ayres falsely stated on the Form 700 that she had no reportable interests — when in fact she had received six checks from the Chamber of Commerce from March 17 through July 30, 2008, worth a total of $14,000.

“The final payment came eight days before she signed and dated her Form 700, declaring under penalty of perjury that she had no reportable interests,” prosecutors said in court papers.”

Reach Richard K. De Atley at 951-368-9573 or rdeatley@PE.com