Most people who donate to charities do not expect their funds to be gambled with. However, former Mayor of San Diego, Maureen O’Connor believed it was okay to dip into her late husband’s charity foundation to ‘borrow’ $2 million for her online video poker addiction. Her defense ranged from a diagnosis of a tumor which inhibits her to control logic and judgment, to grief gambling after the passing of her husband and two siblings.
O’Connor was able to plead not guilty to laundering money if she manages to re-pay the funds within two years, as she claims she had always intended doing.
"No figure, regardless of how much good they've done or how much they've given to charity, can escape criminal liability with impunity," said U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy. If O’Connor manages to come up with the money and submits herself to gambling addiction treatment, she could avoid a maximum 10-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine. Although she was up $1 billion in her winnings at one point, it’s estimated she has lost approximately $13 million net.
Her late husband, Robert Peterson, was the founder of Jack in the Box. The R.P. Foundation he left behind donated money to organizations such as City of Hope, San Diego Hospice, and the Alzheimer’s Association. The foundation shut down in 2009 after running out of funds.
The 66 year-old was the first female mayor of San Diego, and according to her defense attorney, one her of main concerns "is fear of losing her reputation."