A second incident involving alleged theft or vandalism of campaign material by a volunteer for Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, D-Corona, who’s waging a battle for election to a second term, is under review by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, it was confirmed Thursday.
Cervantes’ opponent, former federal prosecutor Bill Essayli, a Republican, issued a statement pointing out that Carlos Gonzalez of Corona had been investigated for allegedly cutting down a 3-by-5 foot sign belonging to the Essayli camp at Pronio Drive and Temescal Canyon Road.
The alleged act of vandalism was witnessed by an Essayli supporter, according to a Corona Police Department report.
“Between refusing to debate, having her dad steal campaign literature, and now her staff taking down my campaign signs, it’s clear Sabrina Cervantes has a total lack of respect for the voters in her district and the law,” Essayli said. “A culture of corruption may be the norm in Sacramento, but Sabrina Cervantes and her campaign should not bring such a blatant disregard for ethical behavior to our neighborhoods.”
Cervantes’ campaign spokesman, Derek Humphrey, told City News Service that he was “completely unaware” of any volunteer being investigated and that the entire episode seemed like a “late October surprise kind of thing.” However, Humphrey said he intended to look into the matter further.
Riverside County District Attorney’s Office spokesman John Hall told CNS that prosecutors had received the police report and were reviewing the details to determine whether any action was warranted.
According to the report, on the afternoon of Oct. 21, the suspect was photographed by a motorist, allegedly using an unknown tool to cut the zip-ties holding up the Essayli for Assembly sign.
“It appeared approximately six zip-ties had been cut on the top and sides of the sign,” the report stated. “Two lower ties were still in place and secured the sign to the fence as it fell forward and could not be viewed by the public.”
Gonzalez left in a red van after the alleged vandalism. The license plate of the van was recorded in the witness’s camera phone and turned over to police, culminating in the suspect being questioned several days later.
“Gonzalez … confirmed he is a volunteer with the Sabrina Cervantes campaign … (and) also confirmed he travels throughout Riverside County and participates in campaign activities,” according to the report. “Gonzalez denied any involvement (in) cutting down any zip-ties to any political adversary signage.”
Around the time of the June 5 primary, Cervantes’ father, Greg Cervantes, a former Coachella councilman and staffer for Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez when he served in the Assembly, was captured on a home security surveillance camera allegedly taking an Essayli campaign flyer from the porch of an Eastvale residence.
Hall said that potential criminal case is under review, too.
Cervantes was elected in November 2016. During the June primary, Essayli garnered a higher vote count, raising doubts about the incumbent’s prospects going into the general election next week.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: