FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Fresno City Council President Nelson Esparza was in court on Monday to answer to charges of extortion and misdemeanor violation of the city charter.

It comes months after claims surfaced alleging Esparza told former city attorney Doug Sloan to only work for the council majority or be fired.

Fresno County’s District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp filed the charges after fellow-city councilmember Garry Bredefeld made allegations that Esparza extorted former city attorney. Sloan since resigned and currently works for the City of Santa Monica.

Attorney Mark Coleman is expected to argue next month that the case should be dismissed because Sloan worked as an attorney for the council and the conversation was protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Councilmembers Tyler Maxwell and Councilmember Miguel Arias also attended Esparza’s court hearing. Arias alleges that the charges are a political move.

“Esparza is the latest victim of the district attorney who has decided to use her office against Democratic leaders that they can’t be in the ballot box. He is the latest example of that.”