Former Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante pleads guilty to sexual misconduct charges

Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante is seen exiting the Orange County Jail on bond on Monday, July 2, 2012. (KABC)

Former Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante pleaded guilty on Friday to sexual misconduct involving women he worked with at the county Public Works Department.

Bustamante is expected to be sentenced to a year in jail and five years probation under a plea agreement. He will also have to register for life as a sex offender.

Prosecutors say he used his position of power to prey on women, instilling fear. Several of the sexual assaults happened in his office.

The prosecutor read a letter from one of his victims, who said: "I was terrified every minute you were in the office being forced to be kissed, hugged or held against my will. I felt trapped, suffocated, scared and disgusted."

Bustamante pleaded guilty to felony counts of attempted sexual battery and stalking, and misdemeanor counts of attempted sexual battery, simple assault, grand theft and two counts of false imprisonment.

His defense attorney says the decision to plead guilty was a practical one. If convicted at trial he could have faced more than four years in prison.

In January, a judge dismissed five felony counts of false imprisonment and three felony counts of assault with intent to commit a sex offense.

Prosecutors said Bustamante, who was arrested in July 2012, sexually assaulted seven women he worked with between 2003 and 2012 while he was an executive at Orange County Public Works.

Prosecutors said he also stole up to $4,029 in county funds by misleading co-workers into thinking he could use tuition reimbursement funds and expenses for meals to cover part of the costs of Harvard University's Kennedy School training program. At a minimum, he stole $3,150, Deputy District Attorney Brock Zimmon said.

His sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 22.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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