Former water and power commissioner Scott Schaffer faces minimum of five years in prison for trading guns for cocaine.
Glendale resident and businessman Scott Schaffer pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to trading two handguns for cocaine with a gang member.
The 52-year-old former Glendale Water & Power commissioner faces a minimum of five years in prison when he is sentenced in June by U.S. District Judge John Walter.
Schaffer and his longtime girlfriend, former Burbank Councilwoman Stacey Murphy, were arrested in July as part of a joint federal and local investigation into the Vineland Boyz street gang.
Schaffer was indicted for trading two handguns to a known felon, possessing a handgun while selling cocaine and owning 10 firearms at a time when he was regularly using cocaine.
Schaffer's pleading guilty to the most serious of the four charges against him was in his best interests, his attorney Roger Rosen said.
"There is evidence in this case, which suggests it would be very difficult to explain it in a jury trial," Rosen said. "It would put him in a difficult position and not a favorable one with a jury."
By pleading out, Rosen hoped to limit Schaffer's exposure in order to put him in the best light possible to the judge, he said.
"It doesn't make sense to go to trial in federal court if you aren't going to win," Rosen said.
Rosen expected the other three charges against his client to be dropped at the sentencing, he said.
Schaffer, who once owned several taxi cab companies that served the Glendale and Burbank areas, is free on $1 million bond with the condition that he be in a drug treatment facility. Schaffer is expected to remain in the facility until the sentencing, Rosen said.
Schaffer's arrest was the result of a large-scale investigation into the Vineland Boyz street gang. Schaffer led police to investigate his girlfriend, who had just been elected to a third term on the Burbank City Council. Murphy is charged with possession of cocaine, and child endangerment for allegedly having handguns and ammunition in the garage of her home, where she lived with her 12-year-old son.
Murphy, 47, pleaded not guilty in August and resigned from the City Council. She is scheduled to appear in court again on Nov. 17.
Up until the day of their arrests, Schaffer and Murphy had an eight-year relationship, Rosen said.
Attempts to reach Murphy's attorney, Rick Santwier, were not successful.
Burbank Police Sgt. Jay Jette called the task force investigating the Vineland Boyz a success, as it resulted in the arrests of gang members and those feeding in to their criminal organization.
Schaffer's case serves as a reminder that a person's actions may contribute to a larger problem, Jette said.
"Hopefully they'll think harder about what their individual actions may result in," Jette said.
Investigators were led to Schaffer when a search of a Vineland Boyz member's Granada Hills home turned up a gun registered to Schaffer that had not been reported stolen.
According to the indictment, Schaffer is alleged to have sold a Colt .45 caliber handgun and a Sig Sauer .45 caliber handgun to a person referred to as "J.Y." in exchange for cocaine.
Glendale News-Press - Nov. 11, 2005