FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – How much will the City of Fresno pay for City Council President Nelson Esparza’s defense for alleged attempted extortion?
In May, Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld claimed former city attorney Doug Sloan was being extorted and said Esparza told Sloan that he could only work for the council majority or he would be fired.
A defamation lawsuit was filed by Esparza against Bredefeld but was later dropped after the city said it would defend Bredefeld.
In July, the Fresno County District Attorney’s office announced Esparza had been charged with attempting to violate the Fresno City Charter and attempting to extort former city attorney Doug Sloan.
City council documents obtained Wednesday detailed how much the city would pay Esparza’s legal counsel.
According to the documents, the city will pay Esparza’s attorney Mark Coleman $350 an hour. The document also states the city will pay Coleman’s assistant attorney $250 an hour. That makes a total of $600 an hour paid for by the City of Fresno.
The attorney’s meals and travel expenses outside of Fresno will also fall on the city’s dime. Reimbursement for meals is based on the General Service Administration (GSA). The amount set by the GSA is currently $69 a day per person. Invoices must be submitted to the city by the law firm with itemized receipts in order to be reimbursed.
Esparza is facing charges of attempt or threat to extort and attempted violation of the Fresno City Charter. If convicted, he could face fines and up to three years in prison. His arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday.