If we were to tell you about a woman who won a billion dollars gambling you might turn green with envy and dream of a limousine lifestyle.
Winning, however, is often only half the story: Maureen O'Connor, the beloved former mayor of San Diego, had her jackpot days. But federal prosecutors in San Diego say she lost even more than she won.
Yeah. That's not a crime, but this is:
She took more than $2 million from a nonprofit to help fuel her gambling problem. The R.P. Foundation is named for her late husband, Jack In The Box founder Robert O. Peterson, and was fueled initially by his cash.
He left her a few bucks, too. Gone.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego says that nonprofit, which gave money to City of Hope, the Alzheimer's Association, Little Wishes Foundation, and more, wasn't meant to be a piggy bank for its trustees, including O'Connor.
She agreed to pay back the $2,088,000 and, in the meantime, the office agreed to defer prosecution and abandon it altogether if she makes good on that promise within two years. It also said O'Connor will undergo gambling-addiction treatment and make nice with the tax man.
O'Connor had surgery to have a brain tumor removed in 2011 and suffered a “pulmonary embolism and cognitive impairment,” feds say.
For those reasons they didn't believe she could be deemed competent to stand trial.
Feds say that, after incurring the losses from 2000 to 2009 during trips to casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and San Diego, she started to sell off her property and took out three mortgages on her personal home in La Jolla.
Even then she was hurting, so she dipped into the nonprofit's money, prosecutors say. She called the cash “loans,” but the cash had yet to be repaid, they said:
Equally troubling, despite winning hundreds of thousands of dollars during that time period, she literally threw good money after bad by continuing gambling rather than reimbursing the Foundation for the wrongfully taken funds.