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Six more indicted in growing Riverside County corruption scandal

December 15, 2009 |  5:20 pm

Six more people were charged with felonies Tuesday in a growing corruption and money-laundering scandal that has already led to the indictment of all but one member of the San Jacinto City Council and five developers.

The latest charges allege the defendants committed perjury, made political donations under false names and contributed to a candidate through an intermediary.

“Money laundering can only occur when people agree to launder money through their personal accounts,” said Riverside County Dist. Atty. Rod Pacheco. “Without these six defendants, the crimes charged in this case would not have occurred.”

Four of the six are related to indicted San Jacinto Councilman John Mansperger including his wife, 34-year-old Shanda Lynn Mansperger. They are charged with illegally making political contributions to Councilman Jim Ayres in his failed 2006 bid for the 65th District Assembly seat.

According to prosecutors, they testified before a grand jury that they were not reimbursed for their contributions but later evidence showed that they were.

The defendants include Christopher Ray Mason of San Jacinto, Marcia Lynn Mathews of Hemet, Kirk William Mathews of Hemet, Carol Ann Gehrum of San Jacinto and John Richard Gehrum of Hemet.

Mason is Mansperger’s nephew, Marcia Mathews is his sister and her husband Kirk Mathews is his brother-in-law. Carol Gehrum is the mother of Nancy Ayres, who was indicted with her husband, Jim Ayres, last month. John Gehrum is Nancy Ayres’ brother.

If convicted, the latest six face a maximum of four years and eight months in state prison. They are scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 15.

Last month, the district attorney’s office indicted nine people, including four of the five City Council members, on 155 counts, including money laundering, perjury, falsifying federal documents and conspiracy to hide campaign contributions.

Many of those charges stem from Ayres' Assembly bid. Prosecutors said local developer Steven Holgate, who was also indicted, provided much of the money for the campaign but had others donate it in their names to skirt contribution limits.

The indicted council members have declined to comment on advice from their attorneys. And despite demands from some local residents at an occasionally raucous council meeting last week, none have resigned, saying they are innocent until proven guilty.

A group called the San Jacinto Corruption Recall Active Movement, is organizing a recall effort of the indicted officials.

--David Kelly from Temecula