Walter Mencken 7 p.m., Dec. 10
South County Corruption Investigation Widens
Yesterday the Union Tribune reported that the home of Gary Cabello, a South County bond manager, had been raided by the district attorney's office. The Carlsbad office of Alta Vista Financial was also raided.
The district attorney has an ongoing investigation into alleged corruption related to proposition bonds, construction companies, and the awarding of contracts in the Sweetwater Union High School and Southwestern College districts.
Alta Vista Financial, according to their website, structures and advises on bond transactions. Their transaction site lists a general obligation bond for Southwestern College for $68,730,311 in 2011. The company also made a refinancing "certificate of participation" transaction for $11,875,000 for Sweetwater in 2006.
Alta Vista gave $25,000 to the campaign to pass Sweetwater's Proposition O for $644 million.
Criticism was directed at Sweetwater for the way contracts were awarded in a 2006 Voice of San Diego article: "Among the bond underwriters who competed to work in Sweetwater, a lower-ranked company, Alta Vista Financial, got moved to the top of the pack because it was a small local firm, Russo [Sweetwater's financial director] said. It was pushed ahead of nine firms with equal or better rankings, even though it had already gotten added points in the ranking for being a local firm."
Whether Alta Vista is a "small local firm" is an interesting question. The firm's website offers this bio of principal Jeffrey Kinsell: "Jeff entered the field of local government finance and project implementation in l975. He has been Managing Principal of Kinsell, Newcomb & De Dios Inc since l990 and recently formed Alta Vista Financial, Inc in order to serve the needs of the Hispanic and minority community."
A 2008 article in the Bond Buyer titled "IRS Cuts a Deal with Kinsell" gives us an indication of the level of business performed by the firm: "The Internal Revenue Service has agreed to close 26 examinations of roughly $800 million of bonds issued by several California school districts without finding the bonds taxable in exchange for $5 million from the lead banker on the controversial deals."
More like this:
- Sweetwater underwriters reel in the big one — a grand jury indictment — Aug. 28, 2013
- First sentencing in South Bay corruption scandal — March 1, 2013
- Southwestern College Seeks Redress from Contractors — April 12, 2012
- How Did We Get in This Mess at Southwestern College and Sweetwater Union? — July 20, 2011
- Prop R, for Rewards at Southwestern College — Sept. 15, 2010