Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009 | After an agonizing wait, former San Diego City Councilman Michael Zucchet was vindicated by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a ruling issued today, but his former colleague Ralph Inzunza was one step closer to prison.
A three-judge panel upheld Zucchet’s stunning and controversial acquittal by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller, noting “there is simply nothing in the record to confirm Zucchet’s participation” in a scheme with a strip club owner to trade campaign contributions for political action.
“Six years after we first presented the government with the reasons why the case should not be brought, after this city lost one of the best city councilmen it has ever had during a time when it desperately needed his services, Mr. Zucchet has been vindicated once again,” said a statement released by Zucchet’s lawyers, Jerry Coughlan and Dennis Riordan.
“He and his wife are tremendously gratified by this result, although it is a tragedy for his family and for this city that they were put through this long and excruciating ordeal.”
At the same time, the judges upheld the guilty verdicts against Inzunza, rejecting one by one his lawyer’s numerous arguments and emphasizing there was clear evidence he promised to help get a no-touching law abolished at strip clubs in exchange for campaign contributions.
“There was no absence of very explicit promises, made directly to the person delivering the contributions, regarding actions Inzunza would take toward repealing the No-Touch ordinance,” the judges wrote.