Ex-Mayor Had Billion-Dollar Gambling Addiction

San Diego's Maureen O'Connor accused of taking charity funds

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 14, 2013 5:57 PM CST
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(Newser) – That a former politician is accused of embezzling from a charity isn't all that surprising. It's the numbers involved in this case that are staggering: Former San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor lost more than $1 billion gambling from 2001 to 2009, reports the Union-Tribune. In fairness, she won about $1 billion over the same period, but ended up about $13 million in the red, reports AP. As a result, prosecutors say she stole $2 million from the charitable foundation set up by her late husband, the founder of the Jack in the Box chain. The foundation has since gone bankrupt.

“I always intended to pay it back,” said O'Connor, 66, after striking a plea deal on money laundering charges. "I still intend to pay it back. In that period of time I lost my husband, three siblings, best friends.” She has two years to repay the money and avoid prosecution. O'Connor and her attorney said she was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2011 and suggested that its previously undetected growth may have affected her judgment. One last strange detail: O'Connor's game of choice turns out to be less than exotic—video poker at various casinos.

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