Former Palo Alto Daily News editor Brian Bothun was sentenced Tuesday to 204 days in jail on a misdemeanor conviction of possessing obscene material and, in an unusual move, refused early release on probation. Because probation would give the police in Bothun’s hometown of Atherton the right to search his house and computer for the next three years, he decided to serve the entire sentence in the county jail, defense attorney Daniel Barton told the Daily News.
Atherton police and Bothun have had a strained relationship since 1999 when Bothun broke the story about then-police chief Steve Cader committing voter fraud. Bothun had maintained during court proceedings that he didn’t download the images found on his home computer, but a friend who had access to the computer reported Bothun to police. In addition to his employment at the Daily News from 1996 to 2005, Bothun also worked at the Palo Alto Daily Post for about a month in 2008 and was an intern at the Palo Alto Weekly in the early 1990s. [Disclosure: Press Club Webmaster Dave Price was Bothun’s boss at the Daily News and Post.]