Maureen O’Connor, the former mayor of San Diego, plead not guilty today to the charge of money laundering from her late husband’s charity.
O’Connor, who served as mayor of California’s second-largest city for two terms during the late ’80s and early ’90s, allegedly used the money to fund her gambling addiction, where she managed to win – and subsequently lose – $1 billion over a 10 year period in the 2000s. As part of a plea deal O’Connor agreed to pay back the $2.1 million that she took from the R.P. Foundation as well as obtain treatment for her gambling addiction.
“I always intended to pay it back,” she said at a news conference following her hearing. “And I still intend to pay it back. In that period of time I lost my husband, three siblings, best friends.”
Court records show that O’Connor liquidated her savings, sold a number of properties, auctioned her valuables and took out second and third mortgages on her home in La Jolla, Calif. to fund her gambling addiction.
O’Connor is the widow of Jack-in-the-Box founder Robert Peterson. At one point she had a personal fortune estimated to be between $40 and $50 million. Today, she is broke and living with her sister.
She claimed in a news conference that her obsessive gambling was the result of a brain tumor diagnosed in 2011 and that she always intended to repay the foundation. Her brain tumor is supposedly the reason why prosecutors agreed to strike a deal with her.