Key witness Collier to testify in trial of San Carlos ex-mayor 

Political consultant Margaret "Peg" Collier is expected to testify today in the case against former San Carlos Mayor Mike King, who is accused of attempting to defraud the South County Fire Protection Authority of $13,320.

In addition to being a key witness in King’s trial, a plea agreement Collier made in December 2005 requires her to testify against King. King is accused of telling Collier to submit invoices falsely claiming she helped South County firefighters find jobs — in order to recoup more than $15,000 she was owed for assisting in a failed parcel-tax campaign in the fall of 2003.

In a recording played in San Mateo County Superior Court on Thursday, Collier told District Attorney’s Office Inspector Mike Scheffler that she had made a mistake in submitting those invoices and thought they had been retracted.

"I told Mike, ‘I don’t think we can do this; talk to the Fair Political Practices Commission,’" Collier told Scheffler. She said she did not do the work described in the invoice and thought the invoice had been withdrawn.

In her recorded statement, Collier said the matter would have ended if former Belmont Mayor George Metropulos and Councilmember Dave Warden had not seen the invoice.

Warden testified Thursday that he learned in June of 2004 that former Belmont City Manager Jere Kersnar had received Collier’s false invoices two months earlier. Warden asked for copies and, along with former Councilmember George Metropulos and Councilmember Coralin Feierbach, took them to District Attorney Jim Fox that August, launching the fraud investigation.

Warden also testified that King told him in February or March of 2004 that he had found a method by which Collier could be paid the money she was owed.

"I didn’t like the debt, and I thought maybe there was something we could do — give her work related to the assessment," Warden said. Although King and others suggested holding fundraisers to earn the money, that never happened, and Warden heard no more on the topic until he saw the invoices, he said Thursday.

Warden’s testimony continues today, after which Collier is expected to testify, according to Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. King will take the stand early next week, along with character witnesses in his defense. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail.
The trial is expected to conclude late next week. Collier’s sentencing is scheduled for April 27.

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Beth Winegarner

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