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15th anniversary of the wedding of Susan Golding and Richard Silberman

Silberman served 37 months of his sentence at Boron

Richard Silberman and Susan Golding, 1984. Even though they were divorced in 1990 after Silberman's conviction in a federal money-laundering case, there are still financial, emotional, and political ties between their families.
  • Richard Silberman and Susan Golding, 1984. Even though they were divorced in 1990 after Silberman's conviction in a federal money-laundering case, there are still financial, emotional, and political ties between their families.
  • Image by Joe Klein

Today is the 15th anniversary of the wedding of Susan Golding and Richard Silberman. The ultimate San Diego power couple, Silberman the Democrat, then 55, wed Republican Golding, then 38, at a ceremony in Uptown's Temple Beth Israel on July 22, 1984. "She arrived at the temple in a red Jaguar," according to the story in the next day's Union.

Susan Golding and Brage Golding (right). Golding, daughter of Brage Golding, a former president of San Diego State University, was a young divorcée with two small children and precious little work experience but a burning desire for influence and money.

Susan Golding and Brage Golding (right). Golding, daughter of Brage Golding, a former president of San Diego State University, was a young divorcée with two small children and precious little work experience but a burning desire for influence and money.

"Silberman, who drove up in a maroon Lamborghini Spada, wore a dark suit and brought video equipment to tape the event. The two were wed under a chuppah, a traditional Jewish gazebo-like structure. Joining them under the chuppah were her two children, his three children, her parents and his father. For the wedding, the dark-haired Golding wore a light pink dress, pink stockings, pink shoes and a garland of flowers in her hair."

George Gorton, 1997. "It was Gorton's influence that got her that seat. If she thinks any differently, she's kidding herself."

George Gorton, 1997. "It was Gorton's influence that got her that seat. If she thinks any differently, she's kidding herself."

Rabbi Michael Sternfield, who in March 1993 was forced to leave his congregation in disgrace after it was revealed he'd had an affair with a female rabbi, told the couple that they had been "blessed with rich lives" and had "pasts that are colorful and exciting. I hope you will always find ways to share your experiences and never be too independent."

Robert Peterson. When Silberman and Peterson sold the Jack In The Box hamburger chain to Ralston Purina in 1968, they pocketed a tidy $58 million between them and cast themselves as the town's well-heeled young turks.

Robert Peterson. When Silberman and Peterson sold the Jack In The Box hamburger chain to Ralston Purina in 1968, they pocketed a tidy $58 million between them and cast themselves as the town's well-heeled young turks.

It would be hard to imagine a couple less independent of each other. They became so close that, even though they were divorced in 1990 after Silberman's conviction in a federal money-laundering case, there are still financial, emotional, and political ties between their families. Indeed, on that Sunday in July 15 years ago, they seemed to be joined at the hip as they made their way down the steps of the synagogue and up the ladder of San Diego political power. They were already plotting her ascent to the next rung: a seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

Pete Wilson, 1996. Silberman remained a Wilson loyalist until 1977, when Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, then widely seen as presidential timber, made him a better offer.

Pete Wilson, 1996. Silberman remained a Wilson loyalist until 1977, when Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, then widely seen as presidential timber, made him a better offer.

Golding, daughter of Brage Golding, a former president of San Diego State University, was a young divorcée with two small children and precious little work experience but a burning desire for influence and money when she found her way into local politics and eventually the world of Richard Silberman. Her personal relationship with George Gorton, the bearded political consultant who was chief architect of then-mayor Pete Wilson's electoral successes, opened the way for her appointment, with Wilson's blessing, to the San Diego City Council in January 1981.

Jerry Brown, 1981. The FBI was investigating Brown's 1974 gubernatorial campaign for failing to report "large Bustamante contributions."

Jerry Brown, 1981. The FBI was investigating Brown's 1974 gubernatorial campaign for failing to report "large Bustamante contributions."

"Her credentials are no worse than a lot of people in office," San Diego political consultant David Lewis told a Union reporter. "But it was Gorton's influence that got her that seat. If she thinks any differently, she's kidding herself."

Helen Copley and Richard Silberman. A reporter at Copley's Evening Tribune accused her of spiking parts of a story about Silberman's ownership of Old Town's Bazaar del Mundo and his role at the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Helen Copley and Richard Silberman. A reporter at Copley's Evening Tribune accused her of spiking parts of a story about Silberman's ownership of Old Town's Bazaar del Mundo and his role at the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Just two years later, in February 1983, her relationship with Gorton over, Golding quit City Hall to become deputy secretary for housing in the state's Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency under Governor George Deukmejian. Her council salary had been $35,000; her new job paid $50,784. But there were said to be other reasons for the move. "Eager to run for higher office, Golding felt trapped behind young, apparently well-entrenched incumbents," wrote Tony Perry in the San Diego Union shortly after Golding's resignation. "No openings in Congress or the Legislature appear likely for several years.

Hugh Friedman and Lynn Schenk. Schenk said she had received Silberman's endorsement and his assurances that Golding would not challenge her.

Hugh Friedman and Lynn Schenk. Schenk said she had received Silberman's endorsement and his assurances that Golding would not challenge her.

"After the November election, Golding went to Mayor Wilson, just elected to the United States Senate, and his powerful aide Bob White and talked to them about the possibility of her landing a job with then Governor-elect Deukmejian," reported Perry. "In recent weeks, she asked Deputy Mayor Bill Cleator to put in a word on her behalf with retired Rep. Clair Burgener (R-La Jolla), who was involved in personnel recruitment for the new administration."

Chris Petti. Silberman was picked up by the Feds on a wiretap of San Diego mobster Chris Petti's phone, asking Petti whether he could use someone to launder drug money.

Chris Petti. Silberman was picked up by the Feds on a wiretap of San Diego mobster Chris Petti's phone, asking Petti whether he could use someone to launder drug money.

While Golding was cultivating her Republican connections, she was widening her personal horizons with Democrat Silberman. The son of a North Park junk dealer, Silberman later said he put himself through San Diego State College fixing television sets. "I was born in Los Angeles and, when I was selling newspapers and magazines there, I used to pass a lot of radio shops," Silberman told the San Diego Union in a 1964 interview. "Those gadgets fascinated me and I asked my dad to buy a crystal set. He did, and I've been playing around with electronic devices ever since."

David Malcolm, 1998.  Silberman talked to the FBI about San Diego political and business figures, including then-Chula Vista Councilman David Malcolm.

David Malcolm, 1998. Silberman talked to the FBI about San Diego political and business figures, including then-Chula Vista Councilman David Malcolm.

By the time Golding met him in the early 1980s, Silberman was playing with much larger toys. He had become a multimillionaire by wheeling his way through a series of questionable high-tech stock deals, keeping fast company with a series of 30ish San Diego financial hustlers like E. Keene Wolcott, Charlie Salik, and Bob Peterson. The late 1950s and early '60s were the beginning of unprecedented growth for the sleepy little Navy town. Even if the semiconductor ventures they packaged did not always make money for their stockholders, Silberman and his cohorts got rich selling the dream.

Willie Brown. In exchange for leniency, Silberman would provide incriminating information about Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.

Willie Brown. In exchange for leniency, Silberman would provide incriminating information about Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.

When he and Peterson sold the Jack In The Box hamburger chain to Ralston Purina in 1968, they pocketed a tidy $58 million between them and cast themselves as the town's well-heeled young turks, helping to knock down the old C. Arnholt Smith-controlled district attorney and paving the way for Pete Wilson's ascension as the city's "reform" mayor. (Silberman and Peterson were soon kicked off the Ralston board of directors after it was discovered they were dabbling in the stock of a rival fast-food chain.)

Carlos Bustamante. "The Bustamantes received more than $100,000 from SDG&E to make contact with and entertain Mexican officials."

Carlos Bustamante. "The Bustamantes received more than $100,000 from SDG&E to make contact with and entertain Mexican officials."

In return for his support, Silberman was rewarded by Wilson with the chairmanships of the city's downtown redevelopment corporation, the city-owned San Diego Transit Co., and the San Diego Stadium board. Each step along the way, Silberman became wealthier, cultivating elected officials with generous campaign contributions and cutting lucrative deals for friends who came to him seeking government contracts and zoning concessions. He was the ultimate fixer. His influence even reached across the border into Tijuana, where his friend and business associate Carlos Bustamante controlled the city's cooking- and heating-gas franchise.

Blaine Quick. In August 1995, the Quicks hosted a lavish party for Golding's 50th birthday at their Rancho Santa Fe estate.

Blaine Quick. In August 1995, the Quicks hosted a lavish party for Golding's 50th birthday at their Rancho Santa Fe estate.

Silberman remained a Wilson loyalist until 1977, when Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, then widely seen as presidential timber, made him a better offer. Silberman became Brown's secretary of Business and Transportation and severed his ties to Wilson. The national stage beckoned. By then Silberman was also a frequent escort of Union-Tribune publisher Helen Copley. In April 1977, local scandal flared after a reporter at Copley's Evening Tribune accused her of spiking major parts of a story about conflicts between Silberman's ownership of Old Town's Bazaar del Mundo and his new role as overseer of the state's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. He agreed to put the holding into a trust and was quickly confirmed by the Democratic legislature.

Silberman's relationship with publisher Copley, said to be a hard-drinking eccentric who demanded he marry her, was soon history, but this brush with controversy would be far from his last. In March 1979, the New York Times broke a story alleging Jerry Brown had been using his influence with the Mexican government on behalf of Silberman's old friend from Tijuana, Carlos Bustamante. "The governor has been courting Mexican officials, including President Jose Lopez Portillo, with the behind-the-scenes aid of Bustamante," the Times reported. "Some of the projects Brown has been pushing with the Mexican president are those in which Bustamante and his family, the Tijuana-based owners of ten gas utility companies, have a strong financial interest.

"The Bustamantes have wealth and political influence on both sides of the border, and they are emerging as vital middlemen and partners with American individuals and companies doing business with Mexico." The story went on to say that the FBI was investigating Brown's 1974 gubernatorial campaign for failing to report "large Bustamante contributions," adding that Brown "would not discuss his relationship with the Bustamantes, but Gray Davis, his chief of staff, said there was not 'the slightest connection' between the governor's actions and the interests of the Bustamantes.

"The wealth of the Bustamante family -- Alfonso Sr., 64 years old, and his two sons, Alfonso Jr., 35, and Carlos, 34, -- exceeds $200 million, according to a business associate, and includes real estate, construction, hotels, and ten utility companies that distribute propane and butane gas, the sole source of cooking and heating fuel for most of the residents of Baja California. Their political influence in Mexico is equally vast, according to friends of the family and political observers."

Adding to the intrigue was the fact that the Bustamantes "are involved in Mexican oil and gas deals with close associates of Brown, including his father, former Governor Edmund G. Brown, Sr., according to principals in the transactions." Some of the junior Brown's meetings with Mexican officials, the story said, were "arranged by Carlos Bustamante and Roberto de la Madrid, governor of Baja California Norte, Bustamante says. Bustamante attended some of the meetings and was the only nongovernment person present, according to participants."

"Bustamante," according to the Times account, "was then under contract to SDG&E to secure the approval of the Mexican government" for a power-plant project to be built in Baja California on the coast south of Tijuana. "The Bustamantes received more than $100,000 from the utility to make contact with and entertain Mexican officials," the story said, quoting an SDG&E official who added, "We always suspected the Bustamantes would ultimately build the plant and that it would be on their land."

The Times reported that the FBI was investigating whether the 1974 Brown campaign had accepted at least $40,000 in unreported Bustamante contributions, and Bustamante told the paper he had "lent" $20,000 to the 1978 Brown campaign. But nothing ever came of those allegations nor other reported charges connecting Alfonso Bustamante, Sr., the father of Carlos, to $7 million in alleged kickbacks from Petrolane, Inc., a California-based energy outfit.

Though he had skated through the Bustamante controversy, Brown's political career began to falter. A series of bad judgements, including an ill-fated decision to run against Jimmy Carter in the presidential primaries of 1980 and a loopy campaign-kickoff rally in Wisconsin that earned him the appellation "Governor Moonbeam," courtesy of Doonesbury creator Gary Trudeau, sealed his fate. When he ran for the U.S. Senate against Pete Wilson in 1982, he was beaten handily, and Silberman, who for five years had flourished under Brown, found himself looking for a fresh political connection to fuel his finely crafted network of influence. It came in the form of Susan Golding.

"On occasion I picked up and delivered the children to Dick's house in Balboa Park when I visited from Los Angeles after Susan and Dick started dating in 1982. The house was big and full of art and likewise impressive," Golding's ex-husband Stanley Prowse would later recall in a declaration filed in a child-support case Golding brought against him.

"Susan talked to me on the phone about marrying Dick shortly after she had moved to Sacramento in the spring of 1983," Prowse said. "She told me that she thought she loved him, and that they were talking about getting married, but that she was nervous about it, particularly in light of their age difference and the fact that she was building her political career as a Republican while he was a prominent Democrat. I told her that I felt her fears were justified, and that she should ask him to settle a substantial sum on her when and if they married, so that she would feel secure and not be dependent on him. She told me she thought my advice was sound. I did not doubt that she had followed it when she and Dick were wed the following year.

"I was well acquainted with Dick's reputation as a multimillionaire financier and political power broker. As an associate of what was then Friedman, Heffner, Kahan & Dysart, I had worked closely with Hugh Friedman, whose wife Lynn Schenk was Dick's protégé and 'right hand man' while Dick was Secretary of Business and Transportation. When I was searching for a better paying position after separating from Susan, Mr. Friedman (who already had left the firm) suggested that Ms. Schenk might be able to help me find something in Dick's department. I went up to Sacramento for interviews but nothing came of it. I believe I met briefly with Dick, although I doubt he remembers it. In any event, I was very impressed."

As it turned out, Schenk was to become the next quarry for Golding and Silberman. In the spring of 1984, a seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors had opened up, and Schenk, who lived in La Jolla, had long coveted the job as a launching pad for her congressional aspirations. She said she had received Silberman's endorsement and his assurances that Golding would not challenge her. The promise was smashed that May, as Golding rented a small apartment in University City and moved into the district. As soon as the Schenk campaign began sniping at Golding for accepting small "gifts" from Silberman, such as dinner and trips abroad, the pair got married, and Silberman quickly pumped more than $250,000 of his personal fortune into Golding's campaign treasury, as permitted by law. That November, as the returns came in at election central showing a Golding victory, Silberman knew his investment had paid off, and he was back in business.

For the next six years, Golding and Silberman would remain inseparable in politics as well as business, and he watched over her children as if they were his own. By the 1990 account of Stanley Prowse, Golding's ex-husband, Silberman was generous to a fault. "As I recall, Christmas of 1986 brought a bush plane tour of Alaska, while last Christmas brought a tour of the Far East, complete with surfing in Bali and bar-hopping in Bangkok -- heady stuff for impressionable teenagers. They have been showered with material things and have had so little interest in birthday and Christmas gifts we have given them that they have often ignored our invitations to visit us and claim them.

"I also learned from their unguarded comments that Susan insists that the children refer to me as 'Stan' and to Dick as 'Dad'. Even on their infrequent visits to Joy and me, they refer to Susan and Dick as 'my parents.' I concluded that the quid pro quo for Susan's agreement to discontinue child support was that I would play no further role in their lives or have any influence over them.

"Several years after our separation, I discovered that she had enrolled them in school as "Sam Golding" and "Vanessa Golding" without saying a word to me on the subject. By the time I found out, it was too late to do anything about it without embroiling them in a painful dispute. The sight of 'Golding' in bold letters on the back of Sam's high school letterman's jacket is painful to me, and for years I have received little or no acknowledgement from the children on Father's Day or my birthday. They do not treat Joy or me respectfully. Susan has done her best to wipe the slate clean."

Silberman also took care of his own children, and they in turn became part of his business network and helped Golding raise political money. In September 1986, Silberman's son Craig sued Joe Hevia, a former lobbying client, to collect unpaid fees. A few years earlier, Hevia had hired Craig to help him line up a lucrative transit advertising contract from San Diego's public bus company but had failed to get the business and allegedly refused to pay Craig for his services.

A San Francisco deposition taken in conjunction with the case shows the linkages between the father, the son, and the stepmother. Craig testified that his father, a former chairman of San Diego Transit, had first put him in touch with Hevia by way of a mutual friend. "He was referred to my father by a man in San Francisco, whose name I can't recall right now, who's in governmental affairs, I believe, up here.

"And he wanted some help with the San Diego advertising contract, San Diego Transit District advertising contract, and my father thought it would be a good project for me to work on, so I met Mr. Hevia one day at lunch."

Craig testified that between 1981 and 1985, he was associated with his father in a number of other business ventures, including a deal with the giant ARCO oil company. "I was also working with my father on different business ventures he had.... We worked on the ARCO project together.

"I was retained by ARCO to help them do some work in Mexico and it required me to go to Mexico City and help them increase their business activities in Mexico.

"The ARCO project was the only one that we brought to fruition, but we worked on different projects in Mexico in regards to agricultural products and in regards also to -- we were exploring the possibilities of the fish business. Basically start-up type things."

Between March of 1985 and August of 1986, Craig testified, he had also been employed by San Diego Gas & Electric in its governmental affairs department. "I used to work for ARCO and I spent a lot of time helping them out in Mexico. So I went to work for San Diego Gas & Electric to help them with their contacts in Mexico... They are interested in energy exchange with Mexico, and they needed my contacts helping with that."

The man Craig was suing, Joe Hevia, testified that the younger Silberman repeatedly asked him for campaign contributions to a variety of causes favored by his father, including Susan Golding, who was then running for county supervisor

Said Hevia, "He knew people in other cities, get me in with Willie Brown, Jerry Brown, send money to local politicians, send money to some lady down there running for supervisor, and that's what I was going to do. He was going to be my consultant for the next five years for the length of the contract."

During the years Golding sat on the board of supervisors, Richard Silberman acted as a go-between for many special interests. Chief among them was a Japanese company known as Kyocera, as well as his old friends from the Jerry Brown years, the Bustamante family. Silberman had dealt with Kyocera during the final years of the Brown Administration, when the Kyoto-based ceramics giant sought special tax treatment under California law.

To serve as fronts for his lobbying activities, Silberman set up two groups, the California Unitary Coalition and the California Investment Environment Coalition. Silberman's son Craig was also employed by the coalition. "We got connected with Dick in the late '70s," William Everitt, a Kyocera vice president recalled in a 1992 interview. "He was a great guy, very supportive of us. And we got verbal commitments from [Jerry] Brown, too, that he would support our efforts to abolish the [unitary] tax because he felt it was very unfair."

To make their point, Kyocera and other foreign companies funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and campaign contributions to California politicians. In 1984 alone, the San Jose Mercury News reported, the Silberman-run California Unitary Coalition handed out $178,000. In 1985, the California Investment Environment Coalition dispensed $370,000, according to the Mercury News.

Golding was among the beneficiaries, reporting that in her years as a member of the board of supervisors she received campaign contributions from Everitt and Rodney Lanthorne, a Kyocera vice president. She also reported receiving free meals and "transportation" from both Kyocera and Sony, another member of the coalition. In 1985, she reported that the two Kyocera-backed lobbying groups had provided she and her husband "over $10,000" a year in income, the maximum disclosure category.

In May 1985, Golding returned the favor. She successfully lobbied her fellow supervisors to set up the San Diego International Trade Commission, to "demolish existing trade restraints." Members of the board she appointed included Kasey Hasegawa, then president of Kyocera International. The commission touted the benefits of Tijuana maquiladoras and backed NAFTA to the hilt. Said Kyocera's Everitt in 1992, "She's a terrific woman and for what it's worth, I support her for mayor."

Behind the scenes, more than just public policy was at stake. FBI notes of wiretap transcripts later made public as part of the federal government's 1989 money-laundering case against Silberman suggest that by 1989, when Kyocera was seeking to build a maquiladora plant in Tijuana, Silberman wanted Kyocera to do a deal with his old friend Carlos Bustamante. On February 13, Silberman said he "talked to Bustamante this weekend. Bustamante told R.S. about his deals, and in two weeks 'Inamuri' [the founder of Kyocera], is coming to town. Inamuri is pushing the idea of a twin plant so he can bring his buddies in."

On February 15, a caller identified as Bustamante told Silberman, "I turn over the factory on the last day of the month. It's about $400,000 plus the contract." On the same day, according to an FBI transcript summary, a Kyocera vice president called Silberman to confirm a reception on February 24 at the county supervisors building. The supervisors were "holding a reception for city and state officials for T.J. business." The Kyocera vice president said he "feels honored of recognition." Silberman then said he "needs the resources of Inamuri." Moments later, the transcripts say, Silberman called Golding's executive secretary "re: reception plans. They discuss inviting some prominent Japanese businessmen from Sony [and] Panasonic."

It all came to a screeching halt in April 1989 with Silberman's arrest by the FBI. In all, it had been an 18-month investigation, begun after Silberman was picked up by the Feds on a wiretap of San Diego mobster Chris Petti's phone, asking Petti whether he could use someone to launder drug money -- for a fee, of course. Silberman's own phones were promptly tapped and an elaborate sting -- which enticed Silberman to do two government-money-laundering deals using cash supplied by a government agent -- ended at the Hyatt Islandia on Mission Bay, where agents took him into custody.

After the bust, Silberman panicked and began pouring out what he said were some of his darkest secrets to the agents. According to notes later revealed at trial, Silberman talked about a host of San Diego political and business figures, including then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, then-Chula Vista Councilman David Malcolm, mafia frontman Allen Glick, and even his own son, Craig, who worked for Brown at the time.

"Desperate to avoid prosecution, Silberman, a consummate negotiator, made an offer, according to court documents and trial testimony: In exchange for leniency, he would provide incriminating information about Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, the San Francisco Democrat considered the state's second most powerful politician after the governor," according to a July 9, 1990, story in the Los Angeles Times. "Silberman told the agents that Brown's law firm had connections to businesses with a stake in legislation under the powerful lawmaker's control, and he offered to expose the ties."

According to the account in the Times, the FBI wrote down a list of the names Silberman had provided, along with cryptic references:

"Allen Glick -- none"

"Willie Brown -- David Malcomb [sic] -- bagman"

"Howard Alan [sic] -- SCE/SDGE merger"

"legal fees to WB firm"

"7/83 -- Jap. meeting re unitary tax"

"25K 'legal fee' -- millions in savings"

"Son -- Willie Brown"

"The final line is apparently a reference to Silberman's son, Craig, who works for Brown in San Diego. Craig Silberman declined Friday to comment.

"On another page of the FBI agent's notes," the Times story added, "there are references to three prominent San Diego-area businessmen: Carlos Bustamante, a Tijuana businessman whose family is politically active in Mexico and has extensive real estate holdings; Christopher Sickels, a real estate developer, best known for a costly renovation of the historic U.S. Grant hotel in downtown San Diego; and Arjun Waney, the founder of a San Diego-based clothing firm, Beeba's Creations."

Silberman was convicted June 28, 1990. That September, he was sentenced to a 46-month prison term and was sent to a federal prison camp near Boron in the Mojave Desert. "The prison has no walls, fences, bars, gun towers or guns," according to a 1986 Los Angeles Times story describing the camp. "Guards are nattily attired in gray slacks, powder-blue shirts, maroon ties and navy blazers. Amenities include a swimming pool and two full-time recreation directors. Some inmates, who are allowed to leave the prison unescorted, spend their days working in nearby communities and their evenings umpiring games for the local Little League."

On Sundays, the paper reported, "Visitors began to arrive, many driving Cadillacs, Lincolns, or Mercedes-Benzes. Some inmates in the visiting room skipped dinner because their wives and girlfriends had packed gourmet meals and then heated them in the microwave. The drug-money launderer in the corner of the visiting room enjoyed a meal of shish kebab and wild rice with his girlfriend; the embezzler by the window polished off a bowl of kiwi fruit and strawberries; and the elderly gentleman recently convicted of fraud waited while his wife heated up a plate of salmon."

Golding, who was gearing up to run for mayor, played down stories that she was a regular visitor to the prison. She was quoted in an August 1991 San Diego Tribune story as saying she was "disappointed with her husband and visits him infrequently. She said rumors of a divorce were unrelated to her mayoral bid. 'But whatever my relationship is with my husband, it has absolutely nothing to do with politics,' she said. 'I have never made a personal decision based on politics. I never will, ever. Nor will he.' "

When Golding did indeed file for divorce that August 21, Silberman's older son Jeffery released a statement from the disgraced financier. "Susan has stood by me with strength, courage, and understanding. She saved my life," referring to his February 1990 suicide attempt in Las Vegas just before the beginning of his trial.

"Unfortunately, I was not always truthful with her regarding critical and vital aspects of my life, and I know I am responsible for the changes in our relationship. We have been separated over a year now, and the obvious strains and difficulties have led us to mutually agree that it is time to end the marriage. I will always be grateful to her."

At least in public, the couple went their separate ways. Golding was elected to her first term as mayor of San Diego in November 1992. Silberman served 37 months of his sentence at Boron before being released in August 1993 to a halfway house in the San Francisco Bay area, about the same time Golding began organizing her 1996 reelection campaign committee. San Diego Union columnist Tom Blair reported that Silberman received six furloughs during his prison stretch, including one to San Francisco and two to the mountain resort of Big Bear.

After his time in the half-way house, Silberman settled down in a well-appointed San Francisco apartment, later moving to the upscale suburb of Mill Valley, where some accounts had him associated with a younger woman identified as Lisa Layne. He told inquiring reporters that he was a financial consultant to a Sacramento-based pizza chain called Mountain Mike's.

Blaine Quick, a wealthy denizen of Rancho Santa Fe who was part owner of the controversial De Anza mobile-home park on city-owned land in Mission Bay, controlled a large chunk of Mountain Mike's. Quick and his wife Bobbie, once chairwoman of the Governor Jerry Brown campaign committee in San Diego County, were close friends of Golding. In August 1995, the Quicks hosted a lavish party for Golding's 50th birthday at their sprawling estate.

But that was not the only connection between Golding, the Quicks, and Silberman. Documents filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission in February 1998 show that Silberman, along with his sons Craig and Jeffrey, and Golding's children, Samuel and Vanessa, owned stock in Jreck Subs Group, Inc., a company that had merged with Mountain Mike's and had gone public. On its face, it appeared to be a typical Silberman deal, full of high-finance mumbo-jumbo, with phrases like "pre-emptive rights to purchase" and "contingent shares not yet issued."

According to the filing, Silberman and his two sons, along with Golding's two children, were offering some of their shares in the company to the public. Vanessa Golding owned 5787 Jreck shares she intended to sell, as did Craig and Jeffrey Silberman. Their father Richard was listed as owning 115,747 shares in the offering. Lisa Layne, Silberman's reputed associate, owned 28,937 shares, and Blaine Quick, 368,390 shares.

The disclosure added that "Mr. R.T. Silberman, a shareholder of the Company, purchased 300,000 shares of the Company's common stock for $900,000. The Company received a promissory note from Mr. Silberman with interest at 10 percent per annum with principal and interest due in September 2000. At any time prior to September 2000, Mr. Silberman has the right to require the Company to repurchase the 300,000 shares as consideration for the cancellation of the promissory note.

Somehow, Silberman, an ex-felon who little less than a decade before had been working in the kitchen of the federal prison camp at Boron, had gotten himself back in the restaurant game, big time, and he had brought Golding's children along for the ride. His own sons had also prospered. Craig, who over the years had held a series of politically related jobs, including working with his father on Mexican deals and running the San Diego office of then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, surfaced late last year as a spokesman and strategist for the proposed International Gateway of the Americas in San Ysidro, a project dear to the heart of Susan Golding.

The gateway plan calls for San Diego taxpayers to subsidize a $192 million redevelopment project just west of the San Ysidro border crossing. The project, to include upscale shops and a pedestrian bridge into Tijuana, has encountered criticism from the Immigration and Naturalization Service as well as from neighborhood businesses. They contend the project's taxpayer-financed plan is seriously flawed and would unfairly benefit developer Samuel Marasco and his as-yet-unidentified investors.

But Golding has been pushing the gateway plan hard, traveling to both Mexico City and Washington, D.C., in a well-orchestrated effort to convince federal governments on both sides of the border that the project is feasible. In March of this year, Golding went to Washington again to pitch the project to the U.S. State Department, which has yet to sign off on a so-called "presidential permit" to allow construction of the pedestrian bridge across the border.

According to briefing papers obtained from Golding's office under the California Public Records Act, Golding was to work off material supplied by Marasco, his staff, and his politically connected Washington law firm, Mannatt, Phelps, Phillips & Kantor. "Sam Marasco has produced a video and slide presentation for the state department. Your role would be to spend about 15 minutes speaking from a PowerPoint presentation describing the role of the City of San Diego in managing land use, talk about the success of redevelopment downtown, how we have recently remodeled our airport and how we are now turning our attention toward the land port at the border.

"Your presentation is being crafted by the Mannat [sic] firm," the briefing paper says, "and would be delivered to your hotel in DC on Monday. A trial run is being held at the Mannat offices on Wednesday from 2?5, but your schedule will be accommodated in whatever way necessary."

Then the briefing paper refers to "Silberman," presumably Craig, who is listed elsewhere in the document as one of the Washington attendees. "According to Silberman, the Mannat firm believes that this meeting will be the only opportunity to bring together all the stakeholder agencies to brief them on the Gateway project.

"Also according to Silberman, support for this project is gaining momentum, and two very high-level officials from Mexico will be at the meeting. Silberman was unwilling to name the officials."

It was an uncanny echo of ten years earlier, when Craig's father was caught on FBI wiretaps as he discussed his border business with an unidentified caller: "D.S. [Dick Silberman] says against my better judgement I talked to him (Bustamante)," according to FBI notes of a Silberman conversation dated February 9, 1989. "He's out making letters of intent with Mexico. Bustamante owns most of the vacant land along the border. Roberto de la Madrid is the current runner for Bustamante. D.S.'s Japanese friends are running out on him.

"Carlos Bustamante for Dick," says a later entry, dated March 31, 1989. "In lobby waiting for Dick. Carlos is coming up to office for meeting with Dick."

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