Press "Enter" to skip to content

Portrait of a Sexual Predator: Bustamante’s preliminary hearing begins

Councilman Carlos Bustamante Arrest at Santa Ana City Hall (Image from OC DA Video)
Former Councilman Carlos Bustamante Arrest at Santa Ana City Hall (Image from OC DA Video)

Yesterday the preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for former OC Public Works executive Carlos Bustamante began in the courtroom of OC Superior Court Judge Kazuharu Makino. The former rising star in  the Orange County Republican party and former Santa Ana City Councilman is charged with 12 felony and four misdemeanor counts of sexual battery, false imprisonment, stalking, and grand theft.

Santa Ana Councilman Carlos Bustamante
Former Santa Ana Councilman Carlos Bustamante

The hearing led off with testimony from DA Investigator Thomas Conklin who testified that Bustamante’s direct supervisor, former public works director Jess Carbajal, told him he “had no control” over Bustamante. According to Conkin, Carbajal “said it was tough to supervise an elected [official] who had an ‘in’ with the county CEO.”

From the Voice of OC:

One of the felony charges against Bustamante is felony grand theft of public funds in connection with his attendance at Harvard University’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program.

He is accused of fraudulently receiving tuition worth more than $3,100 in county funds.

Bustamante initially agreed to pay 25 percent of the $11,200 tuition for the program himself and then later signed a letter stating that he agreed to personally pay $3,500 of the tuition, according to prosecutors.

But despite the agreement, he allegedly submitted and received a county tuition reimbursement of $3,000 for his share of the tuition.
He also is accused of charging the county for meals during the program, even though meals were provided. County policy is not to cover food if it is provided.

The most chilling testimony of the day however came from one of Bustamante’s alleged victims, Jane Doe A. His former secretary testified that Bustamante had tried to forcefulle hug and kiss her while keeping her in his county office.

From the Voice of OC story:

“It was like a bear hug. His arms were around me really tight,” she said in a voice that often was barely audible. Through more than two hours of testimony, she clearly avoided looking directly at Bustamante. Meanwhile, Bustamante directly faced his accuser from his chair at the defense table.

Despite struggling and fighting to block his advance, the former secretary said, Bustamante didn’t let go until he managed to kiss her on the neck.

It felt like “I wasn’t going to be able to get out,” she said, adding she was afraid to report his conduct, in part because she was in a new position on a six-month probationary period and in part because of Bustamante’s influence with top officials.

Read the complete Voice of OC coverage here.

We’ve got to wonder why it is that Bustamante is the only individual facing criminal charges. One would think the the enabling behavior of his direct supervisors and senior management officials would make them accessories to Bustamante’s alleged criminal activity over several years.


  1. OC Bureaucrat OC Bureaucrat May 20, 2014

    Every time I think the Board of Supervisors and CEO Mike Giancola can sink no lower, they prove me wrong.

    The Voice of OC’s coverage on Kathy Tahilramani’s complaint and lawsuit documented quite well what the county does to employees who follow these new procedures and safeguards. Tahilramani was viciously attacked by County Counsel, Giancola and former Deputy CEO Alisa Drakodadis. (In a bit of irony and hypocrisy, Drakodadis is now suing the county for whistleblower retaliation.) In her lawsuit, Tahilramani names other employees whose careers were destroyed by senior managers for having the courage to come forward as whistleblowers using this “improved” protection process.

    While the protection measures mentioned in Nelson and Giancola’s memo to employees may sound good on the surface, you need to look deeper. Every person responsible for implementing those measures reports to Giancola directly, or HR Director Steve Danley. Danley was instrumental in enabling and later covering up Carlos Bustamante’s criminal behavior. Giancola was also deeply involved in the Bustamante cover up, as well as providing special favors to one of Bustamante’s mistresses who worked in Giancola’s trash department. Do you really think Giancola, Danley, or the BOS want any senior managers implicated or disciplined for criminal behavior?

    Under Nelson, Giancola and Danley, the fox is guarding the hen house…again.

  2. sweatingbigones sweatingbigones May 28, 2014

    Wait until Campbell, Moorlach, and Mauk have to raise their right hands and swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. This thing will implode. Thank you OCDA!

Comments are closed.