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Chula Vista Councilwoman Andrea Cardenas, brother to appear in court on fraud charges

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Posted at 6:13 AM, Nov 09, 2023

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Chula Vista City Councilmember Andrea Cardenas and her brother, Jesus Cardenas, are slated to appear in court Thursday to be arraigned on criminal charges stemming from an alleged fraudulent loan for their political consulting business.

The siblings are accused of fraudulently obtaining a $176,227 Paycheck Protection Program loan in early 2021 intended for their firm, Grassroots Resources, then using the funds on personal expenses, including a $33,500 check to Andrea Cardenas' Chula Vista City Council campaign account.

They are expected to appear in a downtown San Diego courtroom Thursday afternoon to be arraigned on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud, grand theft, and failing to file tax returns.

While some Chula Vista leaders have called for her resignation. Andrea Cardenas, 31, remains on the City Council.

In a statement issued earlier this week, Cardenas said she and her brother "became aware of many of the details of these allegations through local media outlets, who received a full copy of the complaint before we did.

"Our American judicial system is built on the fundamental principle that our citizens are innocent until proven guilty. As someone who has spent more than half of my life working to support and elevate my community, I understand and respect the critical work that our District Attorney's Office does to uphold the law. While the DA's Office is tasked with the responsibility to protect our community and prosecute abusers of the law, as defendants, we are afforded the right to prove our innocence.

"My intent has never been to harm or disappoint those who believed in me, both in life and at the ballot box. Many conversations are taking place around me about me and what others think is the best way for me to move forward. I would like to make one thing very clear -- my commitment to my community continues. As we move forward in this process, I hope to be given an opportunity by the media, folks in political circles, and, most importantly, my constituents to defend myself."

Jesus Cardenas, who served as chief of staff for San Diego City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn until his resignation earlier this year, faces up to four years and four months in prison. Andrea Cardenas faces up to five years and eight months if convicted of all charges.

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