Imperial County Auditor-Controller Josue Guadalupe Mercado was found guilty of misappropriating public funds at his trial.
The jury declared him guilty on Feb. 24. He is scheduled to go before Judge Poli Flores next month to hear his sentencing which could go up to 4 years in prison. Upon his sentencing, he will lose his position and will not be able to run again for office in California.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Mercado allegedly committed a felony, “Public Officer Crime” in violation of Section 424(a) of the Penal Code. The maximum sentence for this crime is four years in state prison.
On or about October 29, 2020, Mercado allegedly commits a misdemeanor, “Disobeying a Court Order” in violation of Section 166(a)(4) of the Penal Code. The maximum sentence for this crime is one year in county jail.
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors voted to censure Mercado for allegedly neglecting to fulfill the duties of his office.
By a unanimous vote, the Board of Supervisors voted to censure Mercado in December after they were informed by a whistleblower about anomalies at the department. Mercado reportedly did not respond to emails from the County CEO to address this issue.
The resolution against Mercado accused him of not submitting important financial information to the state of California that affected the rating standing of Imperial County.
County Administration received complaints alleging that Mercado failed to respond to inquiries and request for information from Standards and Poor Global Ratings concerning the County fiscal policies and procedures, resulting in a pending lowering rating of the County-issued certificates of participation, series from “A” to “BBB+”, and failed to submit the County’s 2020-2021 adopted budget with the State Controller’s Office by the December 1st deadline.