Board members, administrators and contractors have been the center of attention over the holidays both at the Sweetwater Union High School District and Southwestern College. Called "wide-ranging public corruption" this morning, after almost a year of investigation, charges were filed.
Bonnie M. Dumanis, San Diego County district attorney announced that five people investigated now face a myriad of felony criminal charges.
Pearl Quiñones, SUHSD board president, Board Member Arlie Ricasa, former board member Greg Sandoval, former SUHSD Superintendent Jesus Gandara and Henry Amigable, former senior vice president at Seville Construction Services of Pasadena were notified this morning of charges against them, said Dumanis.
"Today we are announcing criminal charges in what may be the largest public corruption case our office has ever prosecuted," said Dumanis. "Five defendants have been charged with multiple felonies including bribery, perjury and influencing an elected official."
This came after a morning raid of seven people on December 20, including SUHSD board members, a former superintendent and a contractor that worked for the district in projects from Sweetwater's $644 million Proposition O.
The District Attorney's investigation states that all defendants were involved in a "pay to play" culture with businesses using voter approved bond projects involving hundreds of millions of dollars.
Dumanis said felony charges included perjury, bribery, filing false instrument, wrongful influence of a public official and obtaining a thing of value to influence a member of a legislative body. She said if convicted, the defendants face between four to seven years in state prison and fines.
This is an ongoing investigation," said Dumanis. "Additional charges and additional defendants are possible."
Dumanis said this investigation has been ongoing for nearly a year and the "widespread corruption we uncovered during our investigation of this case is outrageous and shameful."
Also in the December raid, former Southwestern College vice president of business and financial affairs, Nicholas Alioto and John Wilson, former director of business services along with SUHSD Board Member Bertha Lopez were not mentioned in today's report.
Patch will follow up with current details of charges and evidence gathered in the Sweetwater Union High School District Proposition O and the Southwestern College Proposition R investigations by the DA's office.