By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa District Attorney
Martinez, Calif. — Today, Wednesday, June 17, 2020, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint of 34 felonies against defendant Joseph Canciamilla of Pittsburg. Canciamilla is the former Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder and a former county supervisor and assemblymember. He also created a campaign account for Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge. Canciamilla is also a licensed member of the California State Bar. Canciamilla’s first court appearance will be on July 27 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 31.
Canciamilla is accused of 30 felony counts of perjury for his alleged misstatements on 30 separate campaign disclosure statements (Form 460s). Canciamilla signed these campaign finance statements under the penalty of perjury. The additional four felony counts relate to personal grand theft of campaign funds for his personal use, totaling $261,800.68. The allegations span conduct from 2010 to 2016.
The personal expenditures made by Canciamilla’s campaign committees for the defendant’s own use were for various purposes, such as:
- Personal vacation to Asia
- Airfare via Southwest Airlines and American Airlines
- Repayment of a Personal Loan
- Transfers from his Campaign Bank Accounts to his Personal Accounts
All of these campaign statements started initially in 2010 with Canciamilla not reporting investment gains in a campaign bank account. While this practice is permissible, using the proceeds of any stock gains for personal use is prohibited. Canciamilla concealed from his Form 460s the gains and losses associated with this investment account. Ultimately, Canciamilla spent more on personal expenses than the unreported investment gains. He therefore had to then transfer personal funds into this campaign bank account to make up the difference.
“In total, the false statements signed by Canciamilla omitted critical information from the campaign finance disclosures. The information left off these forms left the public in the dark about how a candidate and then county-wide elected official spent campaign funds. Given the recent history of misconduct by various elected officials in Contra Costa County, Canciamilla’s behavior is troubling and he must be held accountable,” stated Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.
The DA’s Office was notified of possible criminal activity associated with Canciamilla’s campaign accounts in early 2017 by the Franchise Tax Board. The criminal investigation by the DA’s Office included hundreds of hours examining seven different bank accounts held by the defendant. The two primary financial institutions Canciamilla used were Contra Costa Federal Credit Union and Charles Schwab.
Ultimately, Canciamilla was fined $150,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission in a civil stipulation for the multiple errors in his campaign finance statements, which concealed the personal use of campaign funds for his own benefit.
The statements signed by Canciamilla included various campaign accounts, such as his campaign account for judge (“Friends of Joe Canciamilla for Judge 2012” and campaign account for clerk-recorder (“Joe Canciamilla Canciamilla for Contra Costa County Clerk/Recorder”). See related articles on this matter, here and here.