Feds pinch 2003 recall candidate

roscoe.jpgNed Roscoe, president of the Cigarettes Cheaper chain and a candidate in the 2003 gubernatorial recall election, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy and bank fraud.

Roscoe, 46, and his father, company CEO John Roscoe, 76, co-owned the Benicia-based cigarette retail company. The indictment claims that between late 2002 and November 2003 — that’s right, while he was “running” for governor — the company was in dire straits and the Roscoes fraudulently inflated the company’s value in order to increase the amount they could borrow from Comerica Bank on a revolving line of credit. They allegedly misrepresented the company’s inventory in weekly reports to the bank, causing the bank to overextend about $10.6 million in loans. Bank fraud is punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison.

The Roscoes were arraigned Thursday and released on bond; they’re scheduled to appear next July 9 before U.S. District Judge Roanld Whyte in San Jose.

Roscoe’s 2003 candidacy — “no new taxes,” “no stupid laws,” “get the work done,” “respect everyone,” and “earn respect for California,” his flier said — was endorsed by the state Libertarian Party; he got 2,250 votes and placed 34th in a field of 135 candidates. On election night, he said he’d won an ideological victory by succeeding in getting his message of less government across to voters. Before the election and since, he has been a staunch opponent of anti-smoking laws.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.