Settlement reached in illegal campaign contributions case

Mike Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/02/2008 09:26:45 PM PST

Upland businessman Mark Anthony Leggio has tentatively agreed to settle allegations of campaign contribution violations with the state.

However, any impact of the settlement on his criminal case in San Bernardino County remains to be seen, said Riverside County prosecutors who are pursuing the case after the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office bowed out, citing a conflict of interest.

“I don’t believe there will be any (impact),” said Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral when asked about the settlement with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

Under the agreement, Leggio would pay a $150,000 fine in connection with “a repeated pattern of violations” over a five-year period.

The commission reported that Leggio came forward voluntarily, was remorseful and cooperated with the investigation.

Leggio’s lawyer, Fair Oaks-based Benjamin Davidian, described Cabral’s response as “very disappointing.”

“We’re hoping the Department of Justice will feel differently,” Davidian said Tuesday.

Leggio’s actions show him to be “forthright and acknowledge his errors, omissions and mistakes, and that he’s trying to do the right thing,” Davidian said.

The commission is set to consider Leggio’s agreement at its Dec. 11 meeting in Sacramento.

A co-owner of three Inland Empire auto dealerships, Leggio is considered one of the region’s most influential Republicans.

In the criminal matter, Leggio and three other defendants are charged with pumping more than $50,000 in illegal campaign contributions to state Senate and Assembly races from 2002 to 2006, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Arraignment on the 37-count criminal indictment is set for Friday in San Bernardino Superior Court.

If convicted, Leggio could face up to six years in state prison, while the other defendants face up to three years, according to prosecutors.

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