Greg Sandoval (far left) swore to tell the truth before pleading guilty on April 4.
  • Greg Sandoval (far left) swore to tell the truth before pleading guilty on April 4.
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The corruption cases from three South Bay school districts — Sweetwater Union High School, Southwestern College, and San Ysidro Elementary — are wrapping up. On June 20, Greg Sandoval, former Sweetwater trustee and former Southwestern administrator, went before judge Ana España in the South Bay courthouse.

Star News reporter Robert Moreno tweeted from the courthouse on Friday afternoon, “Sandoval is sentenced to 180 custodial days, 45 which he has to serve in jail and remaining 135 in house arrest.” In addition, Sandoval will have to pay a fine of approximately $8000.

Sandoval served as a Sweetwater trustee in 2006 when Jesus Gandara was appointed as superintendent. The first day on the job, Gandara, Sandoval, and Gary Cabello, a bond underwriter who has also been sentenced in the proceedings, sat down together for tea.

After pleading guilty earlier this year, Sandoval was suspended in April from his job as vice president at Moreno Valley College.

Former superintendent of the San Ysidro Elementary School District Manuel Paul and suspended Sweetwater trustee Bertha Lopez will appear in court for sentencing on June 24.

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Comments

eastlaker June 21, 2014 @ 11:13 a.m.

Even though the charges, the pleas and the sentences resemble swatting flies from a raging bull (and leaving the bull in peace), perhaps some lessons are being learned by the type of person who takes a job in public service because of what they can get from it.

Maybe we will have fewer of those people applying for jobs and/or running for a position on the board in Sweetwater...and San Ysidro and Southwestern College.

Yes, there has been a great deal of tip-toeing around the massive problems in Sweetwater.

We still can't get to the bottom of the real estate deals--can anyone tell me why a public school district gets to decide to become a real estate development concern?

Can anyone tell me why we still have massive amounts of missing Mello-Roos funds?

Can anyone tell me why the reportedly $50 million "borrowed" from the Teachers' Retirement Fund 10 - 15 years ago is simply no longer mentioned? Unaccounted for?

Who gets away with that type of ineptitude/sloppiness/fraud?

Someone with lots of important friends, as in the friends that Ed Brand so much likes to boast about?

Sure would be nice to get to the real truth, not the "massaged" truth, not the "improved-upon" truth, not the "truth" that some would like to still sell to the public. The actual truth: the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as it were.

Does anyone think that we in these school districts are undeserving of that?

Why can't we get the full forensic accounting of the entire Ed Brand reign of terror and mega-ego? Who is afraid of what?

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anniej June 21, 2014 @ 6:30 p.m.

Eastlaker - we all join in your frustration. However, there are positives - one by one they are standing before Judge Espana, and one by one their deeds are exposed and ADMITTED TO - hey they used their mouths, their tongues, their lips when they plead guilty and exposed THEMSELVES! The charges proven!!!!!

While some may curse the efforts of those who have worked for the past 5 years to bring integrity back into the District, the students and taxpayers will benefit - so, curse away!!!! You did the crime now do the time!!!

Once 'the gandara' meets up close and personal with Judge Espana, then they can all meet up on email and whine to each other. The community on the other hand will be celebrating.

Ed Brand is going as is John McCann. They will leave, but, our power of the vote remains. Hopefully we have learned our lessons - and will no longer vote ANYONE into office that is not worthy. When someone shows you who they are - BELIEVE THEM!!!!!!!

Goodbye to this Group - while a better person might wish them well I am not that better person for I continue to dwell on just how many students fell victim to their greed.

Hopefully none will even consider running for any office again - but, if they do, their pasts will be exposed.

8

Jmbrickley June 21, 2014 @ 8:54 p.m.

Anniej... While I applaud the events currently playing out in court, I must agree with eastlaker in asking "where is the money going to come from?" Because of the callous spending habits of the board over the past several years, un-necessary borrowing from mello-roos funds has happened willy-nilly to make ends meet. Just how does the school district plan to make good on these loans. My guess is they will default on them and we, the mello-roos tax payers will be holding the short end of the stick. Time for the "east side" to form it's own district. A district that is accountable for how mello-roos moneys are spent.

4

eastlaker June 22, 2014 @ 6:50 a.m.

Oh, I don't know--maybe someone should run some checks on the Ed Brand/Sweetwater real estate development projects. Perhaps some funds might be found.

7

erupting June 21, 2014 @ 7:49 p.m.

I was there and afforded the opportunity to speak. This may show how callous I am but when the judge said the words immediate custody and the bailiff went directly to Mr. Sandoval and didn't even let him get up and hand cuffed him pulled him up and left. I smiled all over and thought Gandara is next. Sandoval's attorney threw Pearl under the bus and I thought wow they have all turned on each other. Great day.

6

Visduh June 24, 2014 @ 8:09 p.m.

Your comment about how Sandoval was taken to jail from the courtroom is a surprise. I'd have thought the judge would have given him a month to get his head together and then surrender. Maybe she really is getting tough, or at least wants to look that way. And outside the courtroom, he might have been turned loose. But the sight of him being cuffed and hauled away ought to put a twinge of fear into the bowels of those who think such a conviction is a mere inconvenience. While I think that all of them should be doing some jail time, the fact that this jerk got some might just scare a few others, who are tempted, into going straight.

4

oskidoll June 25, 2014 @ 10:20 a.m.

I believe he was indicted for 29 felony counts. According to the sworn testimony in the transcripts, he frequently solicited money and favors from the vendors, rather than passively 'accepting' them, and was quite specific in the details, even complaining when the seats at a football game were not to his liking! I continue to wonder why Judge Espana doesn't have a few words to say to the community about how their public trust has been violated by such admitted perfidy.

2

joepublic June 21, 2014 @ 7:49 p.m.

anniej: "While some may curse the efforts of those who have worked for the past 5 years…" ARE YOU KIDDING!? This community owes all of the "antagonists" a big THANK YOU for all of their hard work.

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anniej June 21, 2014 @ 9:03 p.m.

JmBrickley - so you would simply cast the west side away? Tsk, tsk, surely my old friend you have not turned elteist on me?

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anniej June 21, 2014 @ 9:20 p.m.

erupting - "throw Pearl under the bus"? I believe Ms. Quinones did that to herself. Allow me to remind you of her statement 'I take care of those who take care of me' (paraphrase).

Hmmmmmmm, it appears 'we take care of those who do not take care of our students and tax dollars'.

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erupting June 22, 2014 @ 7:45 a.m.

anniej, you misunderstood I should have been clearer. Sandoval's attorney stated that Sandoval offered to be a witness against the others and that he was truly repentant for his actions. He stated that unlike Ms Quinones who was speaking under her breath and upset that Mr Sandoval expected consequences and was truly sorry for his actions. He also stated that Mr. Sandoval had a spell of aberrant behavior due to heavy drinking when he was fired from SWC. He went on and on about poor Greg. In my speech my main topic was about the mtg with Pearl,Gandara, and Sandoval had when against the bond advisory committee the three of them chose Cabello's firm because of what was ini it for them. Let's not forget Sandoval and Pearl were thicker than thieves for years,well before the Gandara came. Pearl's name came up again in reference to being the hold out, when Greg wanted to fess up and get this over early on. My meaning is slime turning on slime.

8

oldchulares June 22, 2014 @ 9:03 a.m.

JmBrickley,

Jim Cartmill and John Mc Cann pay Mello taxes. Arlie and Bertha live in Bonita east of the 805. A thief is a thief no matter where they call home. Have you forgotten your roots west of the big divider the 805.

8

Ensenadamaria June 22, 2014 @ 9:30 a.m.

JmBrickley: Where are all of our neighbors, why have they failed to show up at board meetings and express outrage for the continuous borrowing of Mello; instead they support a man who has lead the board for over 20 years simply because he carries the title pastor. Well another title he now holds is convicted. Our addresses do not separate us from each other but rather the arrogance that a zip code does.

9

eastlaker June 22, 2014 @ 12:40 p.m.

We are in this together to get Sweetwater back on track.

Rather than go after each other here, would it help to think about what it is going to take?

Yes, anniej, some positives can be celebrated.

But the fiscal mess still remains. The real estate messes still remain.

Can they be "unraveled"? (To used the Ed Brand phrase)...

They must be unraveled--to reveal what?

I say we need the full satisfaction of completely transparent books, going back to the second Fast Eddy's influence affected Sweetwater's financial picture.

Who knows how many games he has run, and is still running? Why else did the board call him back? Because he already knew the playbook!!

My personal opinion is that as a community ( or aggregate of communities, if you prefer), we need to know that the poison has been purged--and a complete forensic accounting of all the books and all the real estate deals is the only way.

7

anniej June 22, 2014 @ 5:39 p.m.

eastlaker - As always your words speak truth. Many of us go back to when SUHSD was one of the best. Back to Board members serving with pride and integrity. School Board member corrupt - no one had ever heard of such a thing. The monies were there for the students, because we ALL cared. Buildings that were built, land that was purchased - why for the students of course.

Then came the pretenders - the egotists, the ones who saw the Superintendent and Board seats as 'opportunities for self'. How do you spell pretender - Ed Brand, Jesus Gandara, Jim Cartmill, Arlie Ricasa, Greg Sandoval, Pearl Quinones and John McCann. Silly people who use our students predicament as a joke - they buy tshirts 'I survived Sweetwater' some curse our names, they claim 'all I was trying to do was give to the poor'. Users who feed on the good nature of unsuspecting community members.

JmBrickley has a right to be outraged - all of the monies he and the other Mello property owners have been taxed, AND FOR WHAT???? For our Board to borrow from them month after month, how many months was no interest paid? Where are all of the millions, does anyone really know, and why aren't the other THOUSANDS of Mello funders beating down the door of accountability.

Oldchulares, you obviously know the players in this soap opera. I share your concern for this community dividing depending on which side of a freakin freeway they live.

Ensenada, your comment refers to false prophets - ah yes.

Nothing can truly divide us, for in order to make the tree well you must feed the root, not simply cut it into two. We have the power to make the future of SUHSD great once again - the power is in the vote. Are the days gone when a title such as preacher or x ball player are seen as value added?

I, for one, have been let down one too many times. A palm leaf extended from one human to another turned into a back stabber. I am like an elephant, I never forget anything good or bad. Most bad things I simply consider the source and let it go, BUT, there are times .......

We need to ban together for the good of our students - for the good of those who seek an education in the trades, for the good of the adults wanting to work for a better life via Adult Ed. Yes, we can come together and accomplish what is good for the community as a whole but it will take work and egos being left at the door. NO PARTY AGENDAS - yes, it will take that too.

In closing, Ed Brand has, once again, promoted many of his fair haired blessed. But, hear me clearly the end of Ed Brand will come with a new mantra for Administrators and District personnel - may not like how you got here, but if you want yo stay you had better be prepared to put students first.

8

oskidoll June 22, 2014 @ 5:45 p.m.

While I think it appropriate that Judge Espana FINALLY ordered some jail time in these important corruption cases, I am disappointed that Sandoval's sentence is so light.

By comparison, please note that just last week the UT carried a story about a US Federal District Judge, Cathy Bencievengo, who sentenced one Jessie Mario Bryan, a DMV supervisor who participated in a DMV bribe operation for a relatively small amount of money, to six months in prison, with this admonition "People want to trust public officials that they're doing the right thing...there shouldn't be shortcuts so you can put money in your pocket."

Judge Espana has yet to make any such comment about the role of public officials and what the public has a right to expect from them by way of ethics and honesty. She seems to be sentencing them for having gotten caught with their hand in the cookie jar, rather than for failure to uphold the public trust. Shame on her.

8

anniej June 22, 2014 @ 5:49 p.m.

Continue. You may want to start showing UP to work EVERY day, because the kiss a** train is about to run out of track.

clarification - there are many Administrators and District personnel who are hard working and deserving. Many know 'secretly' of my appreciation.

Brand may want the new District office, but the taxpaying public WANTS and DESERVES their monies to be spent on their children and the renovation of their schools.

8

Visduh June 22, 2014 @ 9:33 p.m.

Wow. She actually sentenced someone to jail, as in the building with the tiny windows and rooms that have bars! I'm trying to reconcile this sentence with that of Pearlie who gets no time at Las Colinas, or any other jail, just some time in home confinement. Believe me, there's a huge difference between pulling a month and a half in the local slammer and just having to stay home with a soft bed and a fridge full of your favorite "beverage."

Has all this criticism made the good(?) judge reconsider her previous leniency? At some point, I think she was skating close to the edge, and that other judges and maybe even the state commission would conclude that her treatment of these out-and-out criminals was far beyond the limits of discretion that a judge could exercise. In other words, was she starting to fear for her job?

Next up for some serious treatment is The Gandara. Since there's no way for California courts or law enforcement to insure he pulls his home confinement (since home is in another state) his time should all be in the slammer, and needs to be more severe than anything so far parceled out. But we shall see.

Yes, it is noteworthy that she never cuts loose on these creeps and tells them they are really bad people and have done shameful things. If she has any sense of outrage, she keeps it under tight wrap. Or does she know that some way, some day, the shoe could be on the other foot?

4

Susan Luzzaro June 22, 2014 @ 10:03 p.m.

Gandara's sentencing will be interesting. Alioto was the vice-president of the college and a simple google search shows he came to town with history. Yet, when the judge sentenced him, she said he came to town and things were already in play...which as I recall garnered him some leniency.

Of course, when Gandara came to the South Bay things were already in play, Prop O was in the pipeline, etc. Will that have any affect on Gandara's sentence?

And, of course, the paramount question--have the corruption sentences uncorrupted the South Bay?

7

eastlaker June 22, 2014 @ 10:09 p.m.

As you ask, Susan, "Have the corruption sentences uncorrupted the South Bay?"

I think they have dusted around the edges of the corruption, and tucked in the corners of the massive tarps that cover it up.

6

oskidoll June 23, 2014 @ 9:09 a.m.

As I recall, Judge Espana also cut Alioto slack because 'no one showed him how to complete the form 700'...Really???? The man was the VICE PRESIDENT OF FISCAL AFFAIRS for goodness sake! I have filled out the forms...they come with quite complete directions and one need not be a rocket scientist to comply with the law. Alioto also had legal assistance available had he been befuddled by the forms. Espana's assessment of that situation was just really full of holes. As a result, Alioto has slithered back to wherever he came from (Wisconsin I believe) where he had already been under investigation for some fiscal irregularities at the district he once worked for there. Apparently, he was not a novice at criminal manipulation and self-dealing.

7

eastlaker June 22, 2014 @ 11:30 p.m.

Espana's actions are just too, too conveniently mild.

5

eastlaker June 23, 2014 @ 10:10 a.m.

Now--back to the topic of the Mello-Roos areas becoming their own school district. Please bear with me.

These special assessment areas are supposed to be for defined periods of time. When we purchased our home, we were told one thing, and we found out something quite different...but when it comes to figuring out how long we are supposed to pay, most people are told they have 20 years. However, according to how things are set up in each Mello-Roos district, that time can be up to 30 or so years. I believe where I live, it is supposed to be over after 20 years.

(Which is why the Bond measures that we vote for are also very important. More about those items later).

So, if this is correct, we only have a couple of years left to pay. Does it make sense to create new school districts each time a Mello-Roos district has timed out? Of course not.

But Mello-Roos funds MUST be applied correctly. The financial people in this district need to apply the funds as they are meant to be applied, not play games with them and use them for their own purposes! No more Ed Brand Real Estate Schemes, as packaged by Russo, or anyone else!!

Fiscal integrity needs to be reestablished in Sweetwater, along with every other sort of integrity. Bring all the schools up to snuff--open enrollment as a way to bypass standards is not the way to go. (Even if many people think those standards have just been a step in the game of disestablishing a solid public school system so that it can be sold out to private businesses).

People, we all need to wake up! Get our neighbors to wake up! Perhaps Sweetwater is the canary in the mine. Let's hope the canary can be revived with fresh air and light and finally getting the deceptive practices of Ed Brand (and all who go along with him) to cease once and for all.

Have all of you seen that there is an effort to dismantle all school districts? There would then be no local control. No local "ownership". If we want local school districts, we need to ensure they are run correctly, or else we are giving ammunition to those who want them shut down.

Again I say, wake your neighbors. I am not an alarmist. But I read, and care very much for the future of this country.

6

eastlaker June 23, 2014 @ 11:16 a.m.

We--ostensibly--have the "power" of local control. While it seems we have a rather thin hold on it at present, a thin hold is better than no hold.

If we were to let go, how do you think we would get it back? Not easily, if at all.

Both political parties have been very good at ignoring our pleas for help to clean up Sweetwater.

Why is that?

Because party heads like to set things up and run them in ways that suit themselves?

People, give voice to your beliefs on the subject of Sweetwater and how public schools should be run. Demand answerability! Do not put up with blandishments that merely attempt to disguise the fact that nothing is being done to solve Sweetwater's problems!

Sweetwater's books need to be opened up! All the real estate deals and the names of those involved need to be exposed! We need to know who has been behind these DECADES of defrauding the students and the taxpayers.

6

oskidoll June 23, 2014 @ 10:30 a.m.

Eastlaker is absolutely on the money. It takes more than a few interested citizens to watchdog our public entities. It is oversight that makes temptations less interesting to those WE have chosen to do the public's business, and we have learned that temptations are very real and all present. The upcoming elections for board members in Sweetwater and Southwestern are an opportunity for every voter to become educated about the issues and the potential public officials, not necessarily to just vote for the incumbents. The same is true for the City of Chula Vista council and mayor elections.
I second Eastlaker's comments: talk to neighbors and friends, make sure they understand the gravity of their choices....none are 'minor' offices. Otherwise, we end up getting what we deserve for the electorate's apathy, and as we have seen, it is not pretty.

6

anniej June 23, 2014 @ 1:46 p.m.

Eastlaker, oskidoll, All -

The need for Oversight, the need to ban together - here is the first opportunity. The Board will be considering a bylaw change (code for eliminating a person who demanded accountability) to the Bond Oversight Committee. They want to impose a new regulation that would eliminate a person living outside the District from serving on the committee, other than the SD Taxpayer representative. Nick Marinovich, is the target.

History - for about 5 years I have attended the majority if the BOC monthly meetings. For years I stood in front of them doing what I did before the Board - call for action. Then Nick Marinovich and Kevin O'Neill were made BOC members, they joined David Butler followed by several other fine persons. FINALLY we had a BOC that I could have faith in. For 2 years now the current BOC has worked hard and the trust in the BOC restored.

Unfortunately for the District, Marinovich is a detailed oriented persons, we have all worked with persons such as this in our careers. He expects T's to be crossed and I's to be dotted. For some strange reason he had this notion that the fact that Prop O language detailed fire alarm upgrades, that by God fire alarms should be a priority. So,,, when a District employee whistle blower went to channel 10 and raised the red flag - well the BOC demanded answers. Marinovich wanted specifics, details and rightfully so. And so the thorn in Ed Brand's media backside was driven in even more.

Now, in order to be as transparent as possible District employees Tom Calhoun and Paul Woods stated that they too believed in the by law change. Hmmmmm, might it be the old 'your wish is my command Ed Brand scenario'. Where were all of the Facility employees back then, surely they knew what was going on - why didn't they become a whistleblower to the FBI and DA? Allow me to offer the following - 5 years ago when 'the gandara', the indicted Board and SGI were allegedly stealing us blind, when a certain well connected architect who poured money into Board members campaigns and later plead guilty to wrong doing WHERE WERE ALL OF THESE CONCERNED DISTRICT EMPLOYEES? They were blind, deaf and dumb.

My reputation is well documented - I do my research, I pride myself in knowing of what I speak.

I RESPECTFULLY ask that all of you commenters attend next Mondays nights Board meeting and ask that the new Board members vote this bylaw change down.

IT IS A CONFIRMED FACT THAT THIS DISTRICT NEEDS TO INSTILL TRUST IN THIS COMMUNITY REGARDING HOW OUR MONIES ARE BEING SPENT - this alleged personal vendetta that Ed Brand and John McCann have launched against Marinovich will do the exact opposite. I can not think of any committee member who has worked as hard as Marinovich, no disrespect meant to other fine committee members.

9

anniej June 23, 2014 @ 2:08 p.m.

Cont'd

I get it I understand mortgages to pay, babies to feed, and college tuitions to be paid. However, one should never allow their integrity to be tainted in an attempt to please the boss. The BOC and Marinovich demanded accountability - hmmm, isn't that what WE have been demanding? Why should such efforts be viewed as a threat when our tax dollars are being spent. The O in BOC is OVERSIGHT - yet for some strange reason OVERSIGHT IS NOT WELCOME.

IF our communities wishes for oversight and accountability is not a major job objective of any employee then, perhaps, it is time to move on. I am sure Ed Brand will give you a simply marvelous recommendation.

9

eastlaker June 23, 2014 @ 6:14 p.m.

I had a moment of panic, because I went to the district website, and the calendar didn't show anything for June. Then I clicked on agenda, and that listed 6/30, 5 pm for closed session and 6 pm for open session.

So--what if they "handle" this in closed session? Will there be any way to find out beforehand?

6

oskidoll June 23, 2014 @ 7:06 p.m.

Such an item to rewrite the bylaw is not allowed for closed session...the closed session is very limited in what may be discussed there and bylaws do not make that cut. Only personnel items, legal items may be done in closed session. Check out the Brown Act for details.

6

oskidoll June 23, 2014 @ 2:20 p.m.

Anniej is correct. I suggest that an effective communications campaign (in addition to public comment)would be to email the four 'new' interim board members the facts of the matter regarding this proposal...something to the effect of "this bylaw change is a blatant attempt to remove a talented and committed person from the BOC.

Bond oversight needs technical expertise and Mr. Marinovich has that very expertise, along with the ability to question the very items that need to be questioned. Why NOW is this proposal coming before the board, at a time when it is still getting up to speed? Is Dr. Brand attempting to take advantage of the new members with this ill-conceived proposal that might seem logical on its face but is in fact designed to get rid of a person who has asked embarrassing questions of Dr. Brand in the past?"

8

oldchulares June 23, 2014 @ 3:47 p.m.

Why would Ed want to break something that is working. Typical Ed he is vindictive. Tom is a pleaser always been a pleaser but Woods that is a puzzler.

7

Ensenadamaria June 23, 2014 @ 5:20 p.m.

Ed Brand is a bully who is feared by many. There are hopes that district positions will find new leadership. Calhoun is neither trusted or respected. The fire alarm issue and how he tried to hide the truth is evidence that he is not interested in the safety of our campuses. The joke is all of those meetings he attends will come to an end under a new board. Maybe that rock should be lifted how many seminars has he attended and at what cost?

8

eastlaker June 23, 2014 @ 7:16 p.m.

That Ed Brand Jobs for Friends Program has great perks!!

5

erupting June 24, 2014 @ 9 a.m.

Brand and McCann want Nick gone for looking into the fire alarm situation and many many other BOC issues. They can't stand that he has scruples. This is the only way to get rid of him and unfortunately it will work if people don't show up and speak up for this man. People spend a lot of time complaining about the district and all the unethical and illegal behaviors but do not show up and speak where it counts at a board meeting. The new board has already shown that they have bought into Brand and McCann. Instead of letting a voted in board make the decisions they are have par taken of the poisoned koolaid

6

shirleyberan June 24, 2014 @ 9:50 a.m.

Maybe on 6/30 someone can present a written statement/handout, to the new board on the facts in favor of Mr. Marinovich. Ed is banking on an inability to communicate/educate and defend.

3

oskidoll June 24, 2014 @ 11:22 a.m.

Perhaps the other members of the BOC would be present at the upcoming board meeting to speak during public comment regarding Mr. Marinovich's value to the community as a member of the BOC, especially with regard to his technical expertise.

If Brand & McCann get away with this dirty trick now and are able to fool the four interim board members into doing Brand's bidding, goodness knows what will take place between now and December when a new board is seated.

5

shirleyberan June 24, 2014 @ 8:15 p.m.

Visduh - I don't think people get arrested right out of the courtroom except to go directly to serve sentance having already said bye to family and home.

1

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