Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante was arrested on Tuesday for a series of alleged offenses that include defrauding the public and sex crimes that include harassment, battery, forcible sexual battery, stalking, and false imprisonment.
In total, Bustamante was charged with 11 felonies and four misdemeanors. He also faces a sentencing enhancement for offenses designed for sexual gratification as a result of a sexual compulsion.
“This case exemplifies an unacceptable abuse of power, abuse of position, abuse of women, and abuse of trust,” said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “He has been active in local politics for many years. Many considered him a rising star… Holding such a position is a privilege bestowed by the public, and we must do all we can to safeguard the public’s trust.”
In March of 2012, the OCDA Bureau of Investigation began building the case against Bustamante after it became aware of allegations of misconduct. During the course of the next four months, investigators interviewed more than 50 witnesses and identified 19 alleged victims of Bustamante’s predatory attacks. 12 of those victims have had the statute of limitations expire on their encounters and Bustamante was not charged.
Bustamante is accused of sexually assaulting at least seven women between 2003 and 2011 while working in his official capacity at Orange County Public Works, most recently as an administration manager. He is accused of targeting women with similar ethnic backgrounds, age range, and physical characteristics. All seven of the charged victims were County employees and subordinate to the defendant at the time they were victimized. Bustamante allegedly targeted victims whom he knew to be vulnerable due to their emotional state, current relationship status, or employment position.
According to a release issued by the Orange County District Attorney, Bustamante apparently used the same techniques on each of his alleged victims. He would groom them and wear them down. The process would include making inappropriate sexual comments in public. He would then lure his victims into his office, where investigators say he would trap, fondle, kiss, and perform sexual acts on himself or his victims before allowing them to leave.
The attacks would then continue in the form of badgering or harassing the victims by regularly referring to previous encounters they’d had.
The attacks came not only in his office at the Orange County Public Works building, but also in the victims’ cubicles, cars, stairwells, and elevators.
In addition to the sex crimes charges, Bustamante is accused of one felony count of grand theft. That charge stems from a trip that Bustamante took to Boston for a series of courses put on by the Harvard Kennedy School in Boston. The trip would cost more than $12,000, including expenses and airfare. Before receiving approval to go to the course, Bustamante had signed an agreement, which required him to personally cover $3,500 worth of the trip. He paid the money, but upon returning from the courses he submitted a request for reimbursement of $3,100 – contrary to the previous agreement.
He received the money, which the District Attorney said was received fraudulently.
Should he be convicted on all charges, Bustamante faces more than 26 years in prison and will have to register as a sexual predator.