Only in Berkeley • May 7, 2008
As the linked newspaper account describes, Chris Kavanagh has finally received his comeuppance. Last week the sentencing judge gave him the maximum sentence permitted by his plea bargain.
This was not at all what Chris expected. In fact, he and his lawyer thought they had worked out a minimal punishment with the judge. That, however, was before the judge received a letter from BPOA, which included copies of some of Chris’s inflammatory press statements in the immediate wake of his plea bargain [all published in the Daily Planet]. Chris had called his offense a mere “technical violation,” and claimed that his bargain proved that he had obeyed election laws in all other regards. This lack of remorse (really, more like braggadocio!) angered the judge enough that the sentencing was delayed a week. When everyone came back, Chris was sentenced to six months at Santa Rita County Jail.
One moment at the sentencing will always stand out for true “fans” of Chris’s ignominious career. That was when Chris’s father (both mommy and daddy were in court) reached into his pocket, took out a check for $5,800, and handed it to his 50 year-old son so he could pay the first installment of his restitution. It’s a proud family moment, indeed, when you can pay the felony fines for your middle-aged son.
And for those of you out and about in Rockridge, you can now rest assured that there will be one less person in line at Cole Coffee on the weekends this summer…
Four months behind bars for former rent board member
By Paul T. Rosynsky
OAKLAND — A former member of Berkeley 's Rent Stabilization Board who lied about his residency to stay on the elected panel will have to spend at least four months in jail, the maximum sentence allowable under a plea deal reached in February.
The stiffer than expected sentence came after Chris Kavanagh reportedly angered Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson by describing his crime as a "technical violation."
Kavanagh, who was first elected to the rent board in 2002 and re-elected to another four-year term in November, claimed he lived in Berkeley even though he was residing in an Oakland house.
Allegations about Kavanagh's true residence were first made in 2003 but the Alameda County District Attorney's office could not find enough evidence to support the claim. A new round of allegations was made again last year and at that point, the district attorney's office did find that Kavanagh was living in a cottage on 63rd Avenue in Oakland .
Kavanagh, 49, was originally charged with five felonies including voting fraud, filing false nominating papers, perjury, grand theft for accepting monthly stipends and health insurance from Berkeley , fraudulently voting and registering an ineligible voter.
At first, Kavanagh denied the charges and claimed his true residence was in Berkeley . Earlier this year, however, he reached a plea deal with the district attorney's office in which he pleaded no contest to one felony count of registering an ineligible voter.
Under the deal, Kavanagh agreed to pay $10,835 in fines to the City of Berkley , spend five years on probation and face a maximum of six months in jail. But neither Kavanagh nor his attorney believed he would be sentenced to the maximum jail time.
Their opinions changed after Kavanagh described his plea deal as "a technical violation of California election code."
The statement supposedly angered Jacobson.
"The court and the probation officers were aware of the reports that were made," Deputy District Attorney Trevor White said. "These are very serious offenses."
Kavanagh refused comment after court Thursday.
"No comment today, you can speak to my attorney," he said as he walked out of court with his parents at his side.
James Giller, Kavanagh's attorney, continued to defend his client, saying Kavanagh was "devastated."
"Kavanagh is a pretty good guy actually," Giller said. "He has been involved in Berkeley his entire life. He is one of those Berkeley guys who just loves the town."
Although Kavanagh was sentenced to six months in jail, he will only serve about four months or 120 days because of credit for good behavior.
And because he currently holds a teaching position in San Francisco , Jacobson agreed to allow Kavanagh to serve 60 days during the weekend and 60 days straight time during the summer.
Kavanagh will begin his weekend jail stints May 9 followed by straight time on July 1.
White said he hopes the penalty sets an example for others.
"We don't take violations like this lightly," he said. "The integrity of the voting system is crucial to our entire political system."