Santa Clara Councilmember Anthony Becker pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that he leaked a confidential civil grand jury report to the San Francisco 49ers organization and lied about his actions.
Becker was indicted by the DA’s office last month and faces a felony perjury charge for allegations he lied to a civil grand jury about leaking the report. He also faces a misdemeanor charge for failing to uphold his public duty to keep the report private.
The civil grand jury report, titled “Unsportsmanlike Conduct,” detailed accusations that Becker and four other Santa Clara councilmembers have unethically close relationships with the 49ers football team front office, and do the team’s bidding in council votes instead of being loyal to residents.
The report was set to be publicly released Oct. 10, 2022, but the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office alleges Becker leaked a confidential early copy of the report to the 49ers days before that.
In a brief court appearance in San Jose Wednesday, Becker and his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Chris Montoya, entered the not guilty plea, and waived his right to a speedy trial. Becker faces four years in county jail if convicted for perjury. The next court date for a trial setting conference is tentatively set for Aug. 2.
“In my experience, first impressions of a case are often wrong or incomplete,” Montoya said in a brief interview outside the courtroom following the hearing. “I’ve found it’s best to reserve first impressions, so that the legal process can unfold. Right now we stand firmly by the presumption of innocence which Mr. Becker is entitled to.”
Becker, who wore a dark blue suit with a pink and light blue patterned shirt, declined to comment.
Jason Malinsky, the deputy district attorney handling the case, said after court that all cases in the DA’s office are important, and the office is taking this case seriously.
“I think the victims here are the community. The grand jury brought Mr. Becker in and had questions for him and he deceived them. The grand jury is a body assembled to serve the public, to serve Santa Clara County,” Malinsky said.
The 49ers have spent several million dollars in the past two election cycles in Santa Clara politics, helping several councilmembers get elected or retain seats. In the 2022 general election, the team spent more than $2.5 million in the mayoral race alone, supporting the unsuccessful Becker campaign and attacking Mayor Lisa Gillmor.