Santa Clara sheriff candidate charged for alleged lies about law enforcement experience

A 48-year-old Cupertino woman who ran for the position of Santa Clara County sheriff in the primary election earlier this month has been charged with perjury for allegedly saying she had the law enforcement experience required to qualify for the job, prosecutors said Thursday.

Anh Colton, who finished last among the five candidates running for sheriff in the June 7 election at 4.36 percent of the vote as of the latest count, declared under penalty of perjury that she had the required experience, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

State law requires that candidates for county sheriff have at least one year of law enforcement experience within the past five years, but investigators could not find any evidence of Colton ever being a peace officer as she had claimed.

An investigator with the District Attorney's Office in April went to Colton's home to ask her about her law enforcement experience, but she referred him to her campaign advisor, who the next month emailed the investigator to say he should stay away from Colton and that she would not answer his questions, prosecutors said.   

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Colton was not immediately available to comment on the perjury charge, which could bring a sentence of up to four years in jail if she is convicted. Her arraignment is set for later this summer, according to the District Attorney's Office.   

"The qualifications for sheriff are not for show," District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a news release. "The sheriff oversees the safety of thousands of people, hundreds of deputies, and our jail. It is not a job for the inexperienced or incompetent."   

Palo Alto Police Chief Robert Jonsen and retired county sheriff's Capt. Kevin Jensen finished as the top two vote-getters in the primary and will head to a November runoff election since neither got close to the 50 percent mark needed to win the race outright.   

The county's embattled longtime sheriff Laurie Smith declined to run for a seventh term in office ahead of the June 7 race.