Placer County campaign aide pleads guilty to embezzling funds

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A former campaign aide to three Placer County candidates, including the current District Attorney, Brian Jagger pleaded guilty Monday in Sacramento to a single count of wire fraud for his scheme to embezzle more than $20,000 from their election accounts. Jagger, 32, worked for the candidates when they ran for political offices in Placer County in 2010, including the office of Placer County District Attorney. District Attorney Scott Owens initially lodged a complaint with the Sheriff's Office after noticing discrepancies in his own campaign's ledger. He claimed $21,390 was taken from his account. Owens issued a statement Monday thanking the U.S. Attorney’s Office for handling the case and the Sheriff’s Office for investigating it. “I am glad it is over and satisfied that Mr. Jagger has accepted responsibility and already made significant efforts at paying restitution,” Owens said. “I am looking forward to putting this behind and moving forward.” The other two candidates were not named in court documents accompanying his guilty plea. According to the same court documents, Jagger worked for each candidate and had signature authority over each candidate’s campaign bank account. Jagger used his position to convert their campaign funds to his own use. Placer County Auditor-Controller Kathy Martinis said that Jagger worked on her 2010 campaign but didn’t have signature authority. But the Sheriff’s Office did contact her during the investigation and stated Jagger had taken a small sum of money, she said. “It’s just unfortunate,” Martinis said. “He’s a tremendously talented man who unfortunately got side-tracked. It’s just so terribly disappointing.” At the time of the embezzlement activity, Jagger was also serving as Supervisor Kirk Uhler's $95,200-a-year district aide. When revelations of a possible crime were first made public, Jagger was placed on paid administrative leave. His contract ended weeks afterward and was not renewed at the start of this year. The allegations against Jagger were initially investigated by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office before being turned over to the U.S. Department of Justice. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew D. Segal is prosecuting the case in U.S. District Court. Jagger is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge William B. Shubb Oct. 24. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. Those factors could include Jagger's willingness to agree to a plea agreement. He was charged July 7 after an investigation that the Justice Department would neither confirm nor deny while under way. The investigation was transferred from the Sheriff's Office at the beginning of the year.