Democrat Sunny Youngsun Park is set to take the oath of office as the first Asian-American councilwoman in Buena Park’s history tomorrow afternoon. The political newcomer did so by edging out incumbent Virginia Vaughn, a Republican serving as mayor at the time, by all of 16 votes. But for as close and historic as the race proved to be, Park’s victory is now clouded over by legal troubles.
In other words, after the swearing-in ceremony at Buena Park city hall, she may have to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in the court of law so help her God.
That’s because the Orange County District Attorney’s office announced a petty theft charge against the councilwoman-elect today for stealing campaign signs during the election. The charge stems from an alleged incident that happened on the morning of Oct. 19 around Malvern Avenue and Dale Street in District 1. Prosecutors accuse Park and an unidentified man of stealing about a dozen campaign signs that day, ones that deemed her a “carpetbagger” and that had been paid for by the Committee for a Better Buena Park.
The petty theft charge follows the OCDA having announced two such counts against failed Fullerton city council hopeful Paulette Marshall Chaffee on Friday for allegedly stealing signs that deemed her a “carpetbagger” as well.
After police arrested, cited and released Park, her campaign claimed she collected the signs as evidence because they failed to disclose any information about who paid for them. Park’s campaign manager offered no comment when asked by the Weekly about the criminal charge filed.
The Buena Park Police Department took the unusual step of sharing civilian footage of the confrontation between Park and a witness on its Facebook page in announcing the arrest. The viral video tallied tens of thousands of views, but the department deleted the post after Park’s attorney accused it of being an “improper and illegal expenditure.” The Buena Park Police Officers Association had already contributed more than $10,000 to the Vaughn campaign at the time.
By then, Park appeared in numerous news reports about her arrest just weeks before Election Day. They ultimately didn’t sink the 48-year-old Korean-American attorney’s chances of winning but now a court case looms.
Park is set to be arraigned on Dec. 19 at North Justice Center in Fullerton. If convicted of the misdemeanor count, she faces a maximum sentence of six months in county jail.
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!