Ex-mayor’s $1 billion gambling losses stun US city


SAN DIEGO — The gambling losses reached more than $1 billion. The former mayor of a major U.S. city appears to blame the spree on a brain tumor.

Maureen O’Connor acknowledged in federal court on Thursday that she took $2.1 million from her late husband’s charitable foundation during the decade-long gambling binge.

O’Connor, former mayor of San Diego, pleaded not guilty to a money laundering charge in an agreement with the Justice Department that defers prosecution for two years while she tries to repay the foundation and receives treatment for gambling.

“There are two Maureens — Maureen No. 1 and Maureen No. 2,” O’Connor told a news conference. “Maureen No. 2 is the Maureen who did not know she had a tumor growing in her brain.” The tumor was diagnosed in 2011.

O’Connor, 66, once had a personal fortune that her attorney estimated between $40 million and $50 million, inherited from her husband, Robert O. Peterson, founder of the Jack in the Box Inc. fast-food chain. She is now virtually broke, living with a sister.

O’Connor began gambling around 2001 as she struggled with pain and loneliness from the death of her husband from leukemia in 1994 and the passing of several close friends, said her attorney, Eugene Iredale.

He called it “grief gambling” in a court filing.

O’Connor won about $1 billion from 2000 to 2009, according to winnings that casinos reported to the Internal Revenue Service, but lost even more.

The U.S. attorney’s office said O’Connor’s medical condition influenced the decision to strike a deal, saying it may have been impossible to bring the case to trial. The tumor was removed, but doctors submitted letters detailing significant ailments.

“Maureen O’Connor was a selfless public official who contributed much to the well-being of San Diego,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “However, no figure, regardless of how much good they’ve done or how much they’ve given to charity, can escape criminal liability with impunity.”

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • boybakal

    Ex-mayor’s $1 billion gambling losses stun US city….
    O’Connor won about $1 billion from 2000 to 2009, according to winnings that casinos reported to the Internal Revenue Service,

    Winnings $1 billion…Losses $1 billion.
    Equal…no wins no losses.
    With Atty. for sure…losses.

    • boytz

      Maybe you should reread? “…., but lost even more” meaning, she lost more than 1B, perhaps to the tune of 2B, assuming, ergo,- 2B losses less 1B winnings = 1B loss. Maybe so?

      • boybakal

         I did…those are exaggerated figures.

      • ARIKUTIK

        Nanalo ng 1 Billion, natalo ng 1 Billion equals tabla lang. Pero tuwing manalo siya ay nag go goodtime at nambabalato kaya naubos ang kayamanan niyang 50 million. Simple arithmetic Dong.

      • boytz

        Pathetic English reading comprehension. Simple arithmetic for your simpleton mind. Go reread and go refigure!!

      • ARIKUTIK

        Sala nga yong arithmetic mo kasi saan naman siya kukuha ng ipapatalong 2 Billion. Marunong mag english hindi naman marunong mag isip ng numbers … eeeewwwww…… Maka intindi ka ba ng English ? Sabi sa news ay 50 million lang ang kayamanan niya. Tapos nag compute ka ng 2 Billion losses ! nya….hahaha…. read my post with computation to arrive at realistic equation……. byeeeeee …. tulugan naaaaaa…..

      • boytz

        Pagtiyagaan kitang paliwanagan. The report states, thus: “O’Connor won about $1 billion from 2000 to 2009 according to winnings that casinos reported, but lost even more.” The operative words here are “but lost even more, – meaning she lost more than $1B in a span of 9 years which is not exactly improbable for a woman supposed to be of means. Although the exact amount of losses (which is more than $1B), is not stated, the headline, however informs us a net loss of $1 billion. Logic and deduction dictate that to arrive at a net loss of $1B, after considering her winnings of also $1B, she must have had, as I carefully stated, an assumed gross loss of $2 billion. Where she got that much money to lose is, for me, immaterial.

      • doncleo

         She began gambling around 2001 but her winnings and losses started in the year 2000 as recorded in the casinos…Tama ba nabasa natin?

      • boytz

        I believe so.

    • billijo

      You should be an accountant.

  • w4d

    LOL…Americans are stunned…here in our country, people are use to this kind of news where officials gamble or embezzle other people’s money, or funds from the government coffers.

    • Vertumnus

      Because Filipino is used to corruption, they let it continue decade after decade after decade.  There’s seem to be no end in sight for corruption in the Philippines.

    • billijo

      Americans are only stunned by the amount not the action.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3TWVIBNBHJIBKXLUC5IT2JYM5E Harry

    U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy: “…..However, no figure, regardless of how much good they’ve done or how much they’ve given to charity, can escape criminal liability with impunity.”

    Let those stern words serve as a warning also to our corrupt government officials.

    • Vertumnus

      They don’t read or listen.  They will continue plunder as usual after the election. Such is the state of politics in the Philippines.

    • billijo

      Those stern words have very little meanning here in the States. The Philippine Government officials are like all other crooks,they think that they are too smart to get caught. They will go on being corrupt just like they always have been.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BLLMDTEDB63SB5UGTZNT2DEX6Q Willie

    May brain tumor din ata ako. 

    • batangpaslit

      hehehe…basta sa winning side ka lang, Willie, at balatuhan moko ha?


    AGAIN, walang kinalaman si Mike Arroyo sa usaping ito. :)

    • parengtony

      Why so defensive? Or sarcastic?!

      • UrHONOR

        TATANUNGIN ko sana ko naiintindihan mo ang ginamit mong mga palabras dahil walang-wala sa tema, e, hindi na lang at baka masaktan pa ang damdamin mo.

  • rjimenez1226

    Stupid propaganda probably paid for by casinos. No one can win that much in a casino. Those casinos will only allow you to win  a little for you to lose big later..

    • Vertumnus

      Some people can get away with crimes but not against the IRS.  No one mess with them because they will get you every time and make you pay.

      • billijo

        When you have lost every thing that you have,they can only put you in jail. She has no chance of raising that much cash again in 2 life times.

      • Vertumnus

        Her friends and family might be able to raise the $2 million to pay back the charity. I’m sure she’s still got family and friends with money. It’s just a shame no one step in to stop her out of control gambling. They basically enabled her to throw away her fortune.

    • billijo

      You seem to forget that she started with two million dollarsand gambled big bets all over the world. But I guess your being so poor you would comprehend making 10,000.00 plus bets.

  • charlie_oscar

    The actual number is between 1 and 2 million USD…not billion…According to San Diego Times..

    • Vertumnus

      Internal Revenue Service tax record filed by the casino show total winning over $1 billion.
      She is charge with wire fraud for transferring $2,088,000 from her husband charitable foundation to her personal bank account.  That left the charity without money and the account closed.  She was caught when she tried to write a check for $100,000 to the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas. 

    • billijo

      Over a billion US Dollars is what the rest of the papers said.  So why should we believe the San Diego times? 

    • Guest

      Why believe one source when the rest of the media says $1 billion in gambling loses.  The IRS backs up that allegation with tax records.  A simple online research could have told you that.  It’s not prudent to rely on one source of information without verifiable proof.

      • http://Yahoo.com/ Ragdeleafar

        Pwede naman mangyari ang $ 1 billion in gambling loses pero in reality  $ 2 million lang ang hawak na pera dahil that means umiikot ikot lang. That means matatalo & then mananalo and the cycle goes on and on and on at the end the total computation is $ 1 billion. For example natalo $1M, yung natira $1M nanalo ang taya naging $ 5M. Dahil pag nanalo di lang naman double ang panalo depende sa laro di ba  the ratio are: 1:3, 1:10, 1:15, etc., etc. That means mas madami syang beses natalo kaysa panalo. Thus, “O’Connor won about $1 billion from 2000 to 2009, according to winnings that casinos reported to the Internal Revenue Service, but lost even more.”

        Sa lotto lang 10 piso taya manalo ng million pesos di ba???

      • charlie_oscar

        Do you understand how much one billion dollars is?  It would be impossible to swindle such an amount when there is not even a source of such a balance to steal from !  Think 100 million dollars and think 10 stacks of that…You need a forklift to move it.

        Thanks for attending my class.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/HYCSJZQQM73RU4POSJKVPKZYJQ Johnny

         it is $1 billion, can’t you read she inherited something between $40-$50 million from his late husband..$1 billion is total amount she accumulated for some years…use your brain you moron!!! 

      • charlie_oscar

        johnny, this is for the big people…now run along and go play…If you are good I will give you some congee later!

      • GustoKoHappyKa

        “O’Connor won about $1 billion from 2000 to 2009, according to winnings that casinos reported to the Internal Revenue Service, but lost even more.”

        understanding and reading is really hard for some people. some read but dont use their brain…

  • batangpaslit

    $1 BILLION DOLLARS ang natalo sa sugal
    saan naman kaya kumuha ng pang pusta at matalo sa ganung kalaking halaga?

  • No_U_Turn

    Wish we could more local Philippine news than foreign news at inquirer. For foreign news we can go to Yahoo or CNN.

  • Vertumnus

    If she won $1 billion over 10 years and lost it all, she average losing $100 million a year!
    That is obscene in its excess.  No one in her inner circle tried to intervene and wasn’t there anyone to keep her company so she isn’t “lonely”?  This is plain stupidity with or without tumor.
    The tumor is just a convenient cop-out for moronic stupidity.   

    • doncleo

       malapit na mangyari yan sa Pinas…ang pangalan ng politiko Manny Pacquiao.

      • Eva Romero Cabrera

        inggit ka na naman..

      • GustoKoHappyKa

        si pacquiao naman..mauubos ang pera dahil sa mga kaibigan, kamag-anak, kabit at mga Pastor…


    PARA maliwanag at walang gulo sa usapang ito….walang kinalaman si Genuino at si Mike Arroyo sa pangyayaring ito, ha.

    • Eva Romero Cabrera

      walang ganyan sa pinas..hanggang CHANEL bag lang ang kayang isuhol sa mga sugarol dito..

  • billijo

    We Americans can find more excuses forourvises than any other country that ever existed.

  • pilipino

    Dito sa Pinas marami ring politico na may brain tumor – nagpapatalo ng malaking halaga sa sugal.

    • GustoKoHappyKa

      totoo yan..usually yan mga politico..bawal talaga sila sa mga casino..pero para di masyado mainit sa mata.. sa malalayong lugar sila nag cacasino..

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5TBFLMGYQ6VOQOSMUUFHOML5VE Archie B

        para palang si Rolito Go. nakakulong pero nakakalabas para magsugal sa Angeles, Pampanga. na ngayon ay wala nang update sa nangyaring pagpuga.

      • GustoKoHappyKa

        hahaha..actually..yung mayor na nakita ko sa pampanga nga nag cacasino hahaha…

  • kilabot

    “when in trouble, play sick” – criminal credo.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/2DG3R2AAQZDON2KH45T3YC5DOA del pillar

    kaya nga nagploploriperate yang manga kasino saang mang parte ng mundo ay maraming politikong naloloko dahil hindi kanila or hindi pinaghirapan ang kanilang isinusugal manalo o matalo……..kung ipakikita lang ng mga kasino kung sino-sino ang mga malakas tumaya sa pamamagitan ng video ay tiyak magugulantang tayo sapagkat ang karamihan diyan ay nasa gobyerno o politiko na salapi ng bayan ang nilulustay!!!!!!!!!!!

  • walangutak

    Wala sa kalingkingan ni Erap ang nasabing ex- mayor kung natapos ni Erap ang termino niya bilang presidente ng Pilipinas.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos