Former Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante who pleaded guilty four years ago to sexual misconduct involving five women with whom he worked at the county public works department got three felonies reduced to misdemeanors, his attorney said Tuesday.
Bustamante also sought to reduce his 5-year probation by a year, which would allow him to work out of state, but when a victim and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office objected, Bustamante’s attorney Edwin Brown withdrew the motion.
“What we thought we would try to do since he did so well on probation — he was a model prisoner in jail — and got through probation without any hitches that we might be able to persuade the judge to let him pursue some additional employment opportunities beyond the state, which he can’t do while on probation,” Brown told City News Service.
However, with the objections, “We could see the handwriting on the wall and decided to get what we could,” Brown said.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Michael Murray on Friday granted Bustamante’s motion to reduce three felonies to misdemeanors. Bustamante now stands convicted of single counts each of attempted sexual battery by restraint, attempting to touch an intimate part of another person, stalking, assault, and grand theft as well as two counts of false imprisonment, all misdemeanors.
The move allows Bustamante to eventually seek to have the misdemeanors expunged.
Bustamante, who pleaded guilty in January 2016, may also seek to end his requirement to register as a sex offender, Brown said.
“I don’t think I can make that motion anytime soon,” Brown said. “But he will seek that when he can.”
Bustamante hoped to be able to work on a project in Florida, so he sought to have his probation terminated a year early, Brown said.
“He had an opportunity there to help build some restaurants, but he could do it because he’d have to be on site in Florida,” Brown said.
Bustamante could have sought to have the felonies reduced to misdemeanors last year, but waited an additional year, Brown said.
If he clears probation, next year Bustamante might then seek to have the misdemeanors expunged, Brown said.
Bustamante, who was arrested in July 2012 while on his way to a Santa Ana City Council meeting, was ultimately charged with sexually assaulting six women with whom he worked between 2003 and 2012 while he was an Orange County Public Works executive. He was convicted of victimizing five of the women.
Prosecutors said he also stole up to $4,029 in county funds by misleading co-workers into thinking he could use tuition reimbursement funds and expenses for meals to cover part of the costs of Harvard’s Kennedy School training program. He admitted stealing $3,150.
The Bustamante scandal led to then-county CEO Tom Mauk getting pushed out of his job in May 2013. It also prompted officials to reform the way sexual harassment claims are reported and investigated.