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Twenty-two charges were dropped for defendants in a South Bay corruption case during hearings held on October 8 and 9. Twenty charges were dropped by the people, as represented by Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr, in a pre-trial paring of 232 indictments handed down by the Grand Jury in January 2013.

The case initially became public when high-ranking school officials, trustees, contractors, and a bond salesman linked to South Bay school districts, had their homes or offices raided by the DA's office in 2011. By December 2012, as a result of a broadening investigation, the Grand Jury charged 15 defendants with charges which included perjury, bribery and filing a false statement.

Most charges relate to alleged pay-to-play activity which involved Sweetwater Union High School District's Proposition O for $644 million and Southwestern College's Proposition R for $389 million.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Judge Ana Espana listened to the defendants' attorneys' arguments for additional dismissals; however, in the majority of cases she remained unconvinced.

After the October 9 hearing Schorr commented, "We are very pleased with the outcome of the hearings. Judge Espana's rulings confirm the hard work of the grand jurors and their desire to hold these defendants accountable for their actions."

Two additional charges were dropped for Sweetwater trustee Pearl Quinones following arguments presented by her attorney Marco Carlos, one perjury count and one count for filing a false instrument.

In an October 9 interview Carlos said the charges were dropped because of insufficient evidence. Carlos feels confident that when his defendant comes before a jury, the jury will understand "that my client was doing what every other elected officials does."

Carlos also believes that the former program manager for both Sweetwater's and Southwestern's bond construction, Henry Amigable, who has provided a lot of the testimony on which the charges are based, will prove to be "a weak witness."

Carlos said, "Amigable's memory is horrible, and on direct testimony before 8 or 9 experienced lawyers he will not be able to stand up."

That all politicians do this kind of wining and dining seemed to be a common argument presented by several attorneys.

Paul Pfingst, attorney for former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara, took issue with the much-publicized lobster dinner that Gandara received--paid for by Amigable. (The lobster was flown in for the occasion and described as "still kicking.")

Pfingst argued that there were no business discussions at the meal and that it was a social occasion and should not be considered bribery.

Schorr countered that the $1,383 dinner at Bacis, which was also attended by Sweetwater's former trustee Greg Sandoval and current trustee Arlie Ricasa, was intentionally lavish to demonstrate "this is how we will take care of you if we are selected."

Schorr also noted that this meal and many others were not disclosed on Gandara's 700 conflict-of-interest form.

Espana did not dismiss the bribery charge. She said that the meal appeared in the context of other meals or events that happened prior to Sweetwater trustees selecting Amigable and his company.

The lobster dinner in question took place in March 2007. The company which Amigable worked for at that time, Gilbane, along with Seville Group Inc. were selected to manage Sweetwater's Proposition O in April 2007.

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Comments

joepublic Oct. 11, 2013 @ 8:15 a.m.

........the jury will understand "that my client was doing what every other elected officials does."

Maybe so, but hopefully that same jury won't let his client and the others get away with it.

2

dbdriver Oct. 11, 2013 @ 8:27 a.m.

Let's see, La Mesa City Council recently discussed Term Limits. How about SUHSD?

Donna Frye talked about Brown Act Issues. Anybody on our board want to go there?

San Diego High School District has Campaign Contribution limits, which a member of the public recently attempted to introduce to our district. Certain board members wanted to do a study of other districts. Anything come from this????? McCann? Cartmill? Ricasa?

California Department of Education shows that, as of the 2011-2012 school year, SUHSD is 16th largest school district in California. (http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/sd/cb/ceflargesmalldist.asp) Why are we trying to follow others? (Or in some cases, not.) Why can our Board not take the lead on some of these issues?

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bbq Oct. 11, 2013 @ 9:45 a.m.

dbdriver your questions are laudable however the answer is obvious, "Why would the board kill the Golden Goose"

This Board has never been able to Lead anything except embarassment.

As for Marco Carlos' (Pearl Quinones Attorney) comment ...Carlos also believes that the former program manager for both Sweetwater's and Southwestern's bond construction, Henry Amigable, who has provided a lot of the testimony on which the charges are based, will prove to be "a weak witness."... Do you think he may be trying to influence a potential Jury Pool?

How about Paul Pfingst ... Paul Pfingst, attorney for former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara, took issue with the much-publicized lobster dinner that Gandara received--paid for by Amigable. (The lobster was flown in for the occasion and described as "still kicking.") Pfingst argued that there were no business discussions at the meal and that it was a social occasion and should not be considered bribery. I was taught that a bribe/gift with any value between potential contracting agencies was wrong, if not illegal than a Conflict of Interest! If so Gandara should have been "Fired with cause" and given up his severance and retirement. (I wish to remind everyone of the money tree!)

Gee if found guilty shoud the retired teachers/educators retirement fund sue to recooperate their funds?

As for today a question "Is introducing your recently graduated son to Agencies you have financial connections with a "Conflict of Interest"? What if he gets a job from said agency?"

All I know if anyone thinks it's a Conflict, IT IS!!! BBQ

Read more: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/news-ticker/2013/oct/10/south-bay-judge-upholds-222-indictments-in-pay-to-/?login#ixzz2hQq0kL00

Read more: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/news-ticker/2013/oct/10/south-bay-judge-upholds-222-indictments-in-pay-to-/?login#ixzz2hQpSs8oA

3

eastlaker Oct. 11, 2013 @ 1:20 p.m.

The responsibilities that have been placed on this judge and this court and this community are enormous.

We rely on them, which is to say we rely on US to follow through with all the trials, the investigations, the depositions, the examinations and cross-examinations.

We require a good job to be done, so that we can continue the effort to clean up this school district.

I have faith in the judicial system, and faith that everyone involved will be honest participants in this process.

I have heard some people like to cast aspersions on those of us who live in south San Diego County, who like to say we are used to corruption, that we wallow in it. I don't really think that is true.

I think those sorts of ideas are mouthed by people who fear honesty, fear the future and fear making sure all students have the opportunity for a solid education, one that provides them with the initiative to continue on developing their talents.

We in this part of San Diego County happen to know that our communities are improved when all students have equal opportunities, and the funding for schools is applied in ways it is supposed to be applied--not given away to corrupt friends of corrupt "public servants".

1

Visduh Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:33 p.m.

eastlaker, I don't have the confidence that you have in the judicial system. For starters I was mildly incredulous when Bahnee actually brought charges, and wondered if we would ever see them taken to trial and conviction. Then we had this unconscionable delay in scheduling the trial(s). And now the number of charges is shrinking. What is left may be some things that seem so petty that no jury will be bothered by them, and could easily result in acquittals.

In the months that have passed since those indictments have come down, plenty more has happened, and more things from earlier times have been revealed. The truly serious corruption was scarcely addressed in those charges as it was. Payoffs and gifts are one thing, whereas under-the-table dealings and other breaches of the public trust were never mentioned.

As this is evolving, I don't see any major resolution coming out of the trials, if they ever take place. As I've said a number of times before, the usual result of charges like these is a guilty plea, resignation from the elected office, and a fine. Seldom is there jail time involved, and sometimes the guilty plea is to a misdemeanor, not a felony. But we haven't seen a plea coming out of this scandal in months. That is most odd, methinks.

A real clean up of the three districts in question will have to come at the ballot box. Neither the DA nor the feds have shown any sign of taking this with the proper degree of seriousness, and now trials on the full slate of charges are not going to happen. That the bulk of the charges were affirmed is the only positive thing in all this.

1

eastlaker Oct. 11, 2013 @ 4:29 p.m.

There is always the chance that more will be uncovered as we draw closer.

I do think some of these people are starting to sweat, even if they are trying to hide it.

Maybe there are some "deals" that have been made among those charged, with each other, that is--to keep some matters under wraps. But that could change.

You are right in that the surface has barely been scratched. I am hoping that since several of the "critics" of Fast Eddy have been targeted with being investigated by a P.I., the eyes of all will be upon him. He's been skating, but might slip and fall one of these days.

1

Susan Luzzaro Oct. 11, 2013 @ 3:08 p.m.

Eastlaker,

As you know there is a voluminous amount of material associated with this case. Judge Espana seemed to have thoroughly digested it--

1

erupting Oct. 12, 2013 @ 7:41 a.m.

Susan, fact or fiction that there is another hearing that all the defendants will have to attend? What is this hearing for? This hearing is supposed to happen before the readiness hearing?

0

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