FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — The president of the Fresno City Council addressed the attempted extortion charges against him publicly for the first time Thursday.
Nelson Esparza said he’s not going anywhere and he’s not guilty.
The case against Esparza looms large at City Hall, but at least for now, it won’t change anything about how the city does business.
“People’s work will continue here at City Hall without interruption,” Esparza said
He presided over Thursday’s city council meeting – as he has every other meeting since he took over as council president in January.
But this time, he did it with a felony charge hanging over his head.
Prosecutors filed an attempted extortion charge against Esparza on Monday, accusing him of threatening to fire then-city attorney Doug Sloan unless Sloan worked exclusively for Esparza and the council majority.
Esparza said he committed no crime.
“Time and process will show that there was no wrongdoing in the building,” he said.
An arrest warrant affidavit shows Sloan discussed Esparza’s conversation with some of the attorneys in his office and City Manager Georgeanne White.
Council member Garry Bredefeld found out, and after Sloan told Bredefeld he believed the conversation amounted to blackmail, Bredefeld went public with the allegations.
Then there is Sloan emailed an Action News reporter for the conversation.
He said Esparza told him, “I’m just going to cut it. I’m standing between you and you losing your job. From now on you’re only going to work for the majority of the board.”
But public speakers at the city council meeting were skeptical.
“I know you’re not doing anything, Nelson,” Fernando Elizondo, Sr. said. “I see they’re trying to wipe you out, okay?
“Nelson, I know you didn’t do anything wrong,” Lisa Flores said. “Stay tough. Stay tough. You have my support.”
Council member Bredefeld had nothing to say publicly Thursday, but he did schedule a closed-session discussion about whether Esparza could file a lawsuit against the city.
The board came back from that backroom meeting, said nothing about it, and went on with its meeting with Esparza running it.
“And with that, I’d like to say, ‘Let’s get back to work,'” Esparza said.
He said he is staying on as chairman of his board and plans to serve his full term on the board, which runs through 2027.
He is scheduled to appear in court for the first time in September.
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All rights reserved.
Fresno city council president on extortion: ‘No wrongdoing’ Source link Fresno city council president on extortion: ‘No wrongdoing’