A former Carl DeMaio staffer who lied to federal agents about the source of a threatening email he sent to the camp of DeMaio’s congressional opponent, Scott Peters, pleaded guilty Friday to a charge of obstruction of justice.
Todd Bosnich will be sentenced Aug. 31 by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns.
According to his plea agreement, DeMaio — who in 2013 announced he was running for California’s 52nd Congressional District — hired Bosnich to be the campaign’s policy director.
In May 2014, after Bosnich was fired from the campaign, he claimed that DeMaio had made a series of unwanted sexual advances toward him and that when he complained to DeMaio’s campaign manager, he was first “marginalized” and later offered a $50,000 payment in exchange for signing a “non-disclosure” agreement.
For its part, the DeMaio campaign maintained Bosnich was fired not because of the sexual harassment claim, but because of poor work performance, according to the plea agreement.
The DeMaio campaign asserted that Bosnich issued an inaccurate and plagiarized report to the media, and alleged that Bosnich had been barred from working in any capacity in the campaign because he ‘misappropriated” several internal emails.
DeMaio issued a statement Friday thanking the FBI and U.S. attorney “for pursuing the truth and seeking justice in this matter,” which he called a “nightmare.”
“Todd Bosnich’s lies were incredibly painful, smeared my reputation and derailed our Congressional campaign. While the criminal prosecution today may hold Bosnich accountable on some level, Congressman Scott Peters shares responsibility for promoting Bosnich’s smears and lies for political gain,” DeMaio said.
According to the plea agreement, sometime between the late evening of May 27, 2014, and the early morning of May 28, 2014, an intruder at DeMaio’s campaign headquarters cut telephone lines, broke laptop computers, damaged office equipment and stole a notebook containing sensitive campaign information, according to the plea agreement.
On May 29, 2014, Bosnich sent Peters’ chief of staff several internal DeMaio emails that he had received during his tenure as DeMaio’s policy director. The defendant also reiterated his claim that DeMaio had sexually harassed him and threatened to destroy him if he did not stay quiet about the harassment.
Peters’ chief of staff took the Bosnich emails to the San Diego Police Department, according to the plea agreement.
On June 5, 2014, according to the plea agreement, Bosnich set up a “dummy” email account from his home, using false identifying information.
Bosnich then used the “dummy” Yahoo account to send a particularly ugly and threatening message to his own personal email account, the plea agreement stated.
The email “had the potential to affect a national election,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Halpern said in court Friday.
The threatening email referenced Bosnich’s disclosures to Peters’ chief of staff and suggested the “anonymous” author of the email would ensure that the defendant never again worked in politics if he didn’t stop making accusations against DeMaio.
The FBI was contacted, and Bosnich told agents at a meeting that he speculated the author of the email was DeMaio or someone associated with the campaign.
At another meeting with authorities in October 2014, Bosnich falsely asserted that he did not know who sent him the threatening email.
The District Attorney’s Office announced in October 2014 that it would not file charges in connection with the break-in at DeMaio’s headquarters or Bosnich’s sexual harassment allegations.
—City News Service
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