Former SD councilman writes novel based on time in prison camp

Ralph Inzunza calls prison "purgatory on earth"
Posted at 6:19 PM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-28 15:09:53-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A former San Diego city councilman is talking about his role in a criminal prosecution more than a decade ago, labeled "Stripper-gate".  Ralph Inzunza was sentenced to prison camp after lengthy appeals.   After his release he began work on a novel, "The Camp".

It began back in 2003 at Cheetah's strip club in Kearny Mesa; campaign contributions aimed at getting a no-touch city ordinance repealed.  That led to criminal charges and convictions.

"Going to prison is very surreal; it's purgatory on earth."

Ralph Inzunza was one of two San Diego city councilmen convicted of accepting illegal campaign contributions from strip clubs hoping to boost their profits.

"It was campaign contributions; we were never charged with bribery; we were charged with disservice to govenment.  I thought what we had done was above the law; the government thought differently."

The FBI had them under surveillance, tailed them, installed wiretaps, raided their offices.

"Their efforts were very impressive and if they used some of that against the guy in the White House, we'd have a better country."

Inzunza and his colleague on the council, Michael Zucchet, were both found guilty. Zucchet's conviction was thrown out by the judge; Inzunza appealed but lost and was eventually sent to prison camp for a year and a half.

"This is a book about a nerdy politician called El Mayor.  and he goes in there and meets young guys and sees faults in the judicial system."

A book with a message but he wants to entertain, too. "There's comedy-drama; a little of my personality."

Ralph Inzunza is often recognized around town. "It's mixed; some people say I got a raw deal, some look at me and wonder where I've been or what I've done; surprised I'm alive."

He said he's not going to let a speed bump in his life define him.

"Every day is Disneyland; every day's great!"  I've been out 4-1/2 years and I haven't had a bad day."

A book signing is scheduled for Oct. 6th at 7:30 p.m. at Warwick's book store in La Jolla.  Inzunza told 10News he hopes to write a second book; examining the civil rights movement along the U. S.--Mexican border in 1982.