Former Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante was sentenced today to 364 days in jail and ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life for sexual misconduct involving five women with whom he worked at the county public works department.
Under a plea agreement reached Dec. 18, Bustamante also will be on five years of formal probation. Bustamante was close to making arrangements with the county probation department to do his time behind bars in a city jail, which he must pay for, according to his attorney, Brent Romney.
Orange County Superior Court Judge John Conley ordered Bustamante back to court Feb. 19 for final approval of the jail arrangement.
If he fails to get permission to serve time in a city jail he must report to Orange County Jail by Feb. 26.
Bustamante would have to serve at least 182 days of his sentence.
Bustamante pleaded guilty to felony counts of attempted sexual battery and stalking, and misdemeanor counts of attempted sexual battery, simple assault, grand theft and two counts of false imprisonment.
Bustamante will get a chance to ask a judge in three years to reduce the felonies to misdemeanors, and he also may seek to have all of the convictions ultimately expunged.
Attorney James Harman, representing the county as a victim in the case, told Conley that Bustamante had become the “poster child for abuse of power.” The county is seeking $8,498 in restitution, Harman said.
In January of last year, Conley dismissed five felony counts of false imprisonment and three felony counts of assault with intent to commit a sex offense.
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 worked as an Orange County Public Works executive. He was convicted of victimizing five 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 University’s Kennedy School training program. He admitted stealing $3,150.
If Bustamante violates any terms of his probation he has four years and two months in prison “hanging over (his) head,” Conley said.
The Bustamante scandal led to former 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.
—City News Service
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