Garrett Harris 12:36 a.m., June 19
Two more people were charged today in the district attorney's widening investigation into South Bay corruption.
Nicholas Alioto, former Southwestern College vice president of business, pleaded not guilty to two felony counts and one misdemeanor. According to a story posted earlier by the Union Tribune the charges could lead to four years and two months in prison.
Agents for the district attorney's office searched Alioto's house in December. The affidavit shows that, among other things, thumb drives, emails, meal receipts, tax documents and a Blackberry cell phone were taken from his residence.
Alioto was, in his capacity as vice president, intimately involved with awarding contracts for the college's $389 million Proposition R construction.
In addition to Alioto, the attorney for Paul Bunton, CEO of Bunton Clifford Associates (BCA), appeared in court today. Bunton's architectural firm has done business with both Southwestern College and Sweetwater Union High School District.
Bunton pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor that carries with it the penalty of six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fine(s). Bunton's plea said, "I paid for emails and entertainment for Southwestern College officials, my actions triggered reporting responsibilities by these officials under the rules for Fair Political Practices Commission..."
The district attorney's affidavit says in November 2009: "Trip to Pebble Beach...Bunton hosts Amigable [Henry Amigable, Southwestern's Proposition R program manager], Alioto and Steve Breakfield, golf, lodging, food, and beverage..."
After Pebble Beach, according to the affidavit, Bunton wrote to Amigable: "Thanks Henry. Whatever you did with him [Nicholas Alioto] was perfect. You're like his best bud now. I'm going to continue to stay in front of him and am planning on bringing him some sketches each time I meet with him to try and narrow down on the design of the corner lot with him. I get the impression if I can find the design he wants, while I stay before him and entertain him constantly, that we'll get the deal. Giddy-up."
In April 2010, BCA was awarded the $5.3 million corner lot project for Southwestern. The college has recently cancelled the contract with BCA and is revisiting the corner lot design concept.