ENCINITAS — A North County woman who falsely accused former State Assembly candidate Phil Graham of groping and forcibly kissing her was sentenced to two days in jail today after pleading guilty to criminal charges stemming from her claims.
Nichole Burgan originally pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing of a false police report stemming from the claims made during the lead up to the June 5 primary election.
But Tuesday morning Burgan’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Peter Tran, withdrew his client’s not-guilty plea and entered a guilty plea to the charge on her behalf.
Burgan will be sentenced Tuesday afternoon, and Graham is expected to deliver a victim-impact statement at the sentencing, his first public comments since the story emerged last spring.
Graham, who failed to advance to the Nov. 6 general election after finishing in third place during the primary, is the stepson of former California Gov. Pete Wilson.
Burgan said that Graham forcibly kissed her during the early morning hours of May 14 after a night of drinking at the 1st Street Bar in Encinitas.
But variations in her story to different media outlets and a series of restraining orders filed against Burgan in the past that accused her of filing false reports raised doubts about the veracity of her claims.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department investigated and disproved the claims after reviewing video surveillance inside and outside of the bar and interviewing several witnesses.
After several rescheduled trial dates, the case was expected to go to trial Tuesday morning. The case was transferred to multiple courtrooms Tuesday, one time because a judge recused himself after having been involved in one of Burgan’s family law cases.
The case ended up in Judge Sim Von Kalinowski’s courtroom, where Tran withdrew Burgan’s not guilty plea.
Von Kalinowsi ordered Burgan to appear for sentencing.
Burgan faces a maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
The criminal complaint alleged that Burgan, on or about and between May 20 and May 23 “did unlawfully report to a peace officer that a misdemeanor had been committed, knowing such report to be false.”