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Former San Diego California mayor steals charity money for gambling

By Mason White 7:06 PM February 16, 2013
Maureen O’Connor 

By: David Ross
(Scroll down for video) A former San Diego, California, mayor was arrested and charged after being caught stealing from charity to finance her gambling addiction, according to court proceedings in California.

She married a wealthy man and became the first mayor of San Diego. But when Maureen O’Connor left public life, she spent hours and hours sitting in front of video-poker machines.

Over a period of nine years, she wagered an estimated $1 billion, including millions from a charity set up by her late husband, who founded Jack in the Box.

That was the picture that emerged in court Thursday, when the former mayor tearfully acknowledged that she took more than $2 million from a charity founded by her late husband, Robert O. Peterson.

O’Connor, 66, admitted in a plea deal that she had a gambling addiction and she had no money left to her name. Her lawyer, Eugene Iredale, suggested that a brain tumor may have impaired her reasoning. She gave reporters copies of her brain scan from 2011.

O’Connor’s health has been declining rapidly, according to doctors and it was highly unlikely, if not impossible, to be brought to trial, according to court documents filed by federal prosecutors.

“This is a sad day for the city of San Diego,” Assistant U.S. Attorney, Phillip Halpern, said.

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