Former Lodi City Councilman Shakir Khan pleaded no contest Thursday in connection with voter fraud during the 2020 elections, San Joaquin County District Attorney Ron Freitas said.

Khan, who previously represented District 4 after being elected in 2020, entered the plea to 77 counts against him, including 14 counts of election fraud and 41 counts of illegal gambling, money laundering, tax evasion, and grand theft.

Additionally, there were 22 counts that involved false claims filed to the state’s Employment Development Department regarding COVID-19 reimbursements, according to Freitas.

“These 77 counts will ensure that he can longer ever hold office in San Joaquin County again,” Freitas said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

On Jan. 16, Khan will return for a sentencing hearing where prosecutors believe he will face two years in the county jail.

Previously, he was facing a potential state prison sentence of up to 40 years, according to Khan’s attorney Allen Sawyer.

“With standard procedures and credit for time served, we anticipate the actual time served to be closer to one year,” Sawyer said.

Freitas said three separate trials were set to begin for Khan, but his office received information this week that Khan intended to admit to all of the charges.

Sawyer said in a statement that his client entered a no contest plea, which allowed him to not contest the charges without agreeing to the factual basis presented by the prosecution.

However, Freitas said, “You do not plead to 77 counts if you’re not guilty in San Joaquin County.”

In February 2023, Khan had been arrested by deputies from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office following an investigation.

Lodi City Council Member Shakir Khan flashes two thumbs up as he enters the courtroom for his arraignment at San Joaquin County Superior Court in Stockton on Feb. 23. Khan was arrested on election fraud charges and a judge granted Khan his release on bail on Friday. (Harika Maddala/Pagransen/Catchlight Local)

The Sheriff’s Office said the investigation that led them to Khan began in 2019, when they started to see a spike in criminal activity on the Waterloo corridor in east Stockton.

A series of illegal internet gambling locations were found, including the American Smokers Club that was owned by Khan.

Sheriff’s officials alleged that during a 2020 search warrant of Khan’s home, they located 41 mail-in ballots and after further investigating, they located about 70 names that were registered to Khan’s home, his email or phone number.

Khan had also allegedly registered those 70 people to vote. 

“The decision to enter a plea of no contest is not one that comes lightly. However, Mr. Khan has chosen to take this path as a means to an end, ensuring that he can return to his family in the shortest time possible.”

Allen Sawyer, Shakir Khan's attorney

Further allegations against Khan include finding him in possession of more ballots that were not filled out but weren’t for him, pressuring voters to vote for him, taking advantage of the fact that many people didn’t know the process of voting, and filling out ballots on his own then having people sign them.

The Sheriff’s Office said they were able to make the arrest because of Khan’s current ongoing investigation and because of some county residents who were concerned about the election process.

Sawyer said Khan had accepted the plea to reunite with his family sooner.

“The decision to enter a plea of no contest is not one that comes lightly,” Sawyer said in a statement. “However, Mr. Khan has chosen to take this path as a means to an end, ensuring that he can return to his family in the shortest time possible. He has a wife and young children whose well-being has been at the forefront of his considerations throughout this process.”

Victoria Franco is a Stockton-based reporter covering the diverse news around the Central Valley as part of the Report for America program. As a Stockton native, Franco is proud to cover stories within her community and report a variety of coverage. She is a San Jose State University alumna with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. In her collegiate years she was Managing Editor for the Spartan Daily. From her time at the Spartan Daily she helped lead her staff to California College Media Awards and a General Excellence first place. Victoria encourages readers to email her story tips and ideas at [email protected].