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Results of Southwestern College Investigation

Yolanda Salcido and Raj Chopra at a Southwestern "gala"
Yolanda Salcido and Raj Chopra at a Southwestern "gala"

Southwestern College’s long-awaited forensic investigation was released last week. The report focused on the awarding of Proposition R contracts and the activities of the Southwestern College Foundation. The report is remarkable in what it does not contain.

The consulting company contracted by the college to do the investigation, Seo Consulting, worked within constraints. The report advises the reader that, unlike the district attorney, the consulting company has “no subpoena power.”

Two figures, who many presumed would be central to the investigation, were former superintendent Raj Chopra and former foundation director Dan Hom.

Chopra, who was hired at Southwestern in 2007, was lauded for his efforts in passing Proposition R and presided over the district’s dispensations of Proposition R contracts. Chopra’s former vice president of business and finance, Nicholas Alioto, had his home searched by district attorney agents in December; Henry Amigable, former program manager for the college has been indicted.

The investigation states: “I attempted to contact Dr. Raj Chopra, former Superintendent/President of Southwestern College, but the number listed on his March 20, 2011 Form 700 was disconnected.”

In 2008, Dan Hom served on the board of the Southwestern College Foundation, traditionally considered a funding source for student scholarships. When the foundation donated $75,000 to Friends of Yes on Proposition R, Hom and his public relations company Focuscom went to work for the committee. After Proposition R passed, Focuscom/Hom was given a $100,000 public relations contract by Southwestern’s vice-president Nicholas Alioto and former Proposition R program manager Henry Amigable.

Southwestern’s investigation states, “I contacted Daniel Hom, former Director of the Foundation and President of Focuscom, but he preferred not to discuss the issues surrounding this Review.”

Notable, also, is the absence of interviews with any school-board members who served during the period under investigation. Two former board members, Yolanda Salcido and Jorge Dominquez, had their homes searched by the district attorney’s office today, March 20.

Southwestern’s review, like the district attorney’s report, demonstrates the complicated system of gifting, campaign donating, and contract awarding.

Periodically, fresh details were revealed. For example, the wife of program manager Henry Amigable, Angela Amigable, was paid $3000 by the foundation “for services related to the Gala.” Emails indicate “Nick Alioto hired Ms. Amigable with the Foundation’s approval.”

The report also notes that Seville Construction Services, the program manager for the bond construction, “expended approximately $1,450 for ten rounds of golf for Mr. Alioto from October 2009 to November 2010. During that same time period, Mr. Amigable purchased approximately $1,700 in meals for Mr. Alioto. There were also a few instances of meal purchases for Mr. Wilson [Southwestern’s director of business, facilities and planning] and Dr. Raj Chopra.”

Many times the report points to material that warrants further investigation.

In a presentation called “Prop R-New look 2025,” given at the last board meeting, one Powerpoint message read: “District spent valuable resources but we had a bad start for the program.”

How much of the proposition’s $389 million is irrevocably lost?

Interim business and finance vice president C.M. Brahmbatt was not available for comment March 19. Southwestern’s media contact, Bill Gay, said all he was at liberty to say was that “there has been communication between Southwestern and the principals involved in contracts.”

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Yolanda Salcido and Raj Chopra at a Southwestern "gala"
Yolanda Salcido and Raj Chopra at a Southwestern "gala"

Southwestern College’s long-awaited forensic investigation was released last week. The report focused on the awarding of Proposition R contracts and the activities of the Southwestern College Foundation. The report is remarkable in what it does not contain.

The consulting company contracted by the college to do the investigation, Seo Consulting, worked within constraints. The report advises the reader that, unlike the district attorney, the consulting company has “no subpoena power.”

Two figures, who many presumed would be central to the investigation, were former superintendent Raj Chopra and former foundation director Dan Hom.

Chopra, who was hired at Southwestern in 2007, was lauded for his efforts in passing Proposition R and presided over the district’s dispensations of Proposition R contracts. Chopra’s former vice president of business and finance, Nicholas Alioto, had his home searched by district attorney agents in December; Henry Amigable, former program manager for the college has been indicted.

The investigation states: “I attempted to contact Dr. Raj Chopra, former Superintendent/President of Southwestern College, but the number listed on his March 20, 2011 Form 700 was disconnected.”

In 2008, Dan Hom served on the board of the Southwestern College Foundation, traditionally considered a funding source for student scholarships. When the foundation donated $75,000 to Friends of Yes on Proposition R, Hom and his public relations company Focuscom went to work for the committee. After Proposition R passed, Focuscom/Hom was given a $100,000 public relations contract by Southwestern’s vice-president Nicholas Alioto and former Proposition R program manager Henry Amigable.

Southwestern’s investigation states, “I contacted Daniel Hom, former Director of the Foundation and President of Focuscom, but he preferred not to discuss the issues surrounding this Review.”

Notable, also, is the absence of interviews with any school-board members who served during the period under investigation. Two former board members, Yolanda Salcido and Jorge Dominquez, had their homes searched by the district attorney’s office today, March 20.

Southwestern’s review, like the district attorney’s report, demonstrates the complicated system of gifting, campaign donating, and contract awarding.

Periodically, fresh details were revealed. For example, the wife of program manager Henry Amigable, Angela Amigable, was paid $3000 by the foundation “for services related to the Gala.” Emails indicate “Nick Alioto hired Ms. Amigable with the Foundation’s approval.”

The report also notes that Seville Construction Services, the program manager for the bond construction, “expended approximately $1,450 for ten rounds of golf for Mr. Alioto from October 2009 to November 2010. During that same time period, Mr. Amigable purchased approximately $1,700 in meals for Mr. Alioto. There were also a few instances of meal purchases for Mr. Wilson [Southwestern’s director of business, facilities and planning] and Dr. Raj Chopra.”

Many times the report points to material that warrants further investigation.

In a presentation called “Prop R-New look 2025,” given at the last board meeting, one Powerpoint message read: “District spent valuable resources but we had a bad start for the program.”

How much of the proposition’s $389 million is irrevocably lost?

Interim business and finance vice president C.M. Brahmbatt was not available for comment March 19. Southwestern’s media contact, Bill Gay, said all he was at liberty to say was that “there has been communication between Southwestern and the principals involved in contracts.”

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Comments
6

In her reluctant war on corruption, our DA Bahnee D has now widened the search for evidence by raiding the homes of two former Southwestern board members. Little by little the embedded and long-running corruption of those districts is coming out in the open, and there may be more prosecutions. Does she really want to root it all out? Don't make me laugh. The far more likely scenario is that the wrongdoing has become so flagrant and blatant that even she could not ignore it. Will this exposure result in any real and permanent change in the culture of south bay and how its public entities do business? Don't bet on it.

Ahh South Bay, so close to Mexico, so far from Heaven.

March 21, 2012

we shall agree to disagree, with all due respect:

my little piece of the south bay is Heaven to me. right now though, i am finding myself fighting evil forces.

March 21, 2012

amigable is allegedly changing his plea to guilty - OH MY - here we go, hold on folks the ride is about to get very bumpy!!!!!!!!!!

ricasa and quinones - 'the gandara' and sandoval - dominguez and salcido - tip of the iceburg.

i bet cartmill and mccann are sweating bullets about now as are many others down in the south bay. correct forms be da**ed, this is about a whole lot of things going on that should not have been.

think about it, amigable was the middle guy - 'they' went to him with their requests and he went to the ''''''bank''''''' and put in the requests. this guy has a wealth of information about the few (we have read about) and the many we have not.

March 21, 2012

All the rest of the defendants are shaking in their boots right now, they ARE going to do a plea deal NOW or go to jail.

Henry Amigable is going to put them away. That is the problem with conspiracy crimes, all it takes is for one person to flip (the first one) and the rest are toast.

March 21, 2012

i bet those phone lines between lawyer and defendant are on fire.

oh, if only john mccann would have done what he promised to do - but alas he chose rather than to fight 'em to join 'em. i guess the glitter of all of those green backs was more than he could pass up. you see he had his heart set on becoming mayor of chula vista - well i guess we can erase that one from his bucket list. that or any other office.

just my opinion

March 21, 2012

Okay Bonnie where is Chopra, Hom, Terri Valladolid and Jean Roesch? Terri and Jean still serve on the Southwestern College Governing Board and were a big part of this mess. I'm curious how this investigation was done by the College with these two still sitting on the board. Did they give up their buddy Yolanda and the President (Chopra) they allowed to almost take the college down the toilet? I hope there is more to come.

March 21, 2012

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