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At 1:30 this afternoon Henry Amigable, a defendant in the Sweetwater corruption case who pleaded innocent in Janauary to 18 counts of felony and misdemeanor charges, changed his plea to guilty of one misdemeanor.

Amigable was a program manager in charge of $644 million of Sweetwater Proposition O construction funds and subsequently of $389 million of Southwestern College's Proposition R monies.

Judge Michael T Smyth dismissed all other charges. Amigable pleaded guilty to offering gifts or things of value to Sweetwater officials for favorable contract consideration. The Educational Code violation brings with it the possibility of six months in jail and $1000 fine.

Amigable signed a cooperation agreement with the district attorney's office and has pledged to continue to work with law enforcement.

Regarding his conduct of offering gifts, meals, and tickets in exchange for preferential consideration Amigable stated in the press conference after the proceedings, "That was how I was trained by my company." His company at Sweetwater was Gilbane Construction; his company at Southwestern was Seville Construction Services.

Dan Greene, Amigable's attorney, said his client did not bribe anyone, rather, "public officials were demanding these things."

Greene also stated that part of his client's mandate was to entertain and to make relationships. He said Amigable was not aware of the code he had violated.

Today's proceedings were specific to Sweetwater Union High School District. The district attorney's office is continuing to investigate corruption at Southwestern College.

Green acknowledged there may be more forthcoming for his client. On March 20 district attorney agents searched the homes of two Southwestern board members.

Paul Pfingst, who is representing former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara, spoke to the assembled media as well. Pfingst said of Amigable's plea change, "He fingered the corporation who employed him." Image

Attorney Dan Greene and Contractor Henry Amigable

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Visduh March 21, 2012 @ 5:33 p.m.

Pfingst is just amazing. The first rat abandons the ship today, and will bring the rest of them into the water. Hey, this story is better than many of those I read as fiction. In copping that plea, you can bet that he made sworn statements about all sorts of stuff that nobody even knew about and they implicate his fellow defendants and plenty of other "unindicted co-conspirators". Let's see what goes down tomorrow and Friday.


anniej March 21, 2012 @ 6:21 p.m.

ah, my opinion is he is going to finger THEM ALL. he was the little guy in all of this, sort of like a runner - running between alleged corrupt school official then running back to the company for more gifts, funds, scholarships, golf trips, jersey boy tickets, expensive hotel stays.

i am thinking that those folks at sweetwater are not sitting too happy this evening; and i am not only speaking of ricasa, quinones, 'the gandara' and sandoval - i am thinking of the two others who have been sort of left out if you know what i mean. interesting isn't it, they too received all of those campaign donations and they too broke bread - BUT, they were smart enough to fill out those 700 forms and include all that they participated in. however, i am thinking there were conversations, you discussions, perhaps promises, wish lists - what is the 'legal' word for that????????????????????????

all of this is just adding fuel to the fire of the RECALL of john mccann, jim cartmill and arlie ricasa. the south bay is looking for new blood - new folks who have integrity, board members who will act in the best interest of the students, but most of all we want folks WHO CAN NOT BE BOUGHT.

if quinones was smart she would make the call and make the deal - walk away from politics (she was never suited for it anyway) and save herself the worry of the massive debt for legal counsel.

yes much change is needed down sweetwater high district way, 4 new board members and a new superintendent.


Visduh March 21, 2012 @ 8:04 p.m.

It may be too soon to start breaking out the champagne on this. Bahnee may not pursue all this rot after all. I doubt that she wants to air dirty laundry in the county, but when she turns her staff loose on something like this it is difficult to stop them and turn them around. Some people have principles, believe it or not.

It will be most interesting to see what comes down now.


joepublic March 21, 2012 @ 8:28 p.m.

The Reader began publishing stories about all of this two years ago, and it is good to finally see something happening about it. It's going to be very interesting to see how everything plays out.


cvres March 21, 2012 @ 8:55 p.m.

visduh, I am beginning to agree with you. We are in political not ethical territory.


anniej March 21, 2012 @ 9:07 p.m.

if nothing else is accomplished hopefully the south bay and other communities will begin to take interest into what is going on at the school board level. we can no longer vote them in and simply expect that all will be taken care of.

cvres: i believe we are in both ethical and political territory. what good is any politician if they are not ethical? i know, i sound like polyanna. i simply choose to believe in the good of mankind attempting to balance it with the realization that there are bad people who will use vs serve.

joepublic: yes, long before it was covered by every channel the reporter of this story was doing what she does best, reporting worthwhile news. too bad those in the south bay did not take heed and pay attention back then; we could have saved ourselves from all of this corruption by staying informed and becoming involved.


Founder March 22, 2012 @ 7:48 a.m.

Well Said!

The more folks that get interested in what is going on the better for the students of South Bay!


ChulaVistaIssues March 22, 2012 @ 9:11 a.m.

anniej, how do we fix this problem? New rules? Better oversight? New Board members? Someone told me of a possible move to dissolve the district. I wrote about it here: http://focusonchulavista.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/162/ I'm not sure if that is the answer but there are definite problems here.


anniej March 22, 2012 @ 9:49 a.m.

ChulaVistaIssues: just my opinion but i believe there are several things we could do to bring about REAL change.

1- campaign donation reform - if you accept donations you may NOT vote on any issue that pertains to the entity that voted. the majority of the corruption that currently affects our district evolved from pay to play.

2- RECALL - the majority of the board must simply step down. lopez and quinones are up for re election this year - it will be up to the voters, hopefully they will be informed voters.

3- COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT - we as a community can no longer vote 'em in and think we have participated in making the district great. board meetings used to look like the streets of a ghost town, no attendance. even now it is the same group(s) that attend and speak.

4- financially the district is a mess. they are borrowing from peter to pay paul. borrowing from funds, forgetting to pay the money back???? borrowing the money from funds - paying it back on the due date then turning around and borrowing it again the next day????????

5- quality educators - i am a backer of good teachers, those who know my true identity know that HOWEVER, we must find a way to weed out those who are simply showing up and not putting out. if a teacher has lost the zeal to teach then they need to go. if a teacher is, for whatever reason, unable to teach effectively, then they need to go. there needs to be a fair and legitimate scale that rates the effectiveness of a teacher. having said that i would like to interject that it is imperative that unions remain - can we only imagine how much worse it would be at sweetwater without the union? 'the gandara' single handidly proved the necessity of the unions.


anniej March 22, 2012 @ 9:57 a.m.

6- the district needs to STOP paying all of the ridiculous amounts of monies for so called 'consultants'. i am thinking we have resources within the ranks of professionals that are currently employed at sweetwater.

7- a forensic/fraud audit needs to be done of the districts books. each and every board meeting is adding fuel to this fire - does anyone really know or trust what the true financials are? the south bay elementary and chula vista elementary have not had to issue pink slips - their revenue base is the same as sweetwaters, so why is sweetwater in the financial mess it is in?

8- each school should have their own board, that board elected by their school community of parents would then have ownership of how their school is run. this board should include students and teachers. while the schools currently have site councils - it is a known fact that those parents have very little say in truth. think of the impact if the parents would have had say on their prop o dollars? perhaps then 'the gandara' would not have been able to take the remaining prop bb monies from ALL OF THE SCHOOLS and pour them into sweetwater high school.


Founder March 22, 2012 @ 7:57 a.m.

Kudos to Susanne Luzzaro for keeping us Readers up to date on the shady dealing that have sadly become too common place in South Bay...

I urge everyone to use the Readers search toolbox (above) and read many more of her other stories about Southwestern College as those stories are quite similar, pointing out their administration's ongoing abuse of the public's trust instead of putting the education of Students FIRST... Here is one of my favorites: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20...


anniej March 22, 2012 @ 9:59 a.m.

Founder: i am wondering if ms. luzzaro has ever considered running for the sweetwater school board????????????????? (planting a seed hopefully)

just think how refreshing it would be to attend or listen to a board meeting where logical questions were asked vs. self serving speeches given.


anniej March 22, 2012 @ 10:02 a.m.

as i typed my reply to Founder it triggered a thought:

there are many of you Visduh, Founder, surfpuppy, cvres, Joepublic, and others who post consistently and share logical ideas regarding the sweetwater school board.

have any of you ever considered running for the sweetwater board?

just a thought.


Visduh March 22, 2012 @ 9:13 p.m.

I live far away in No county as you might guess. And I'm too blunt to ever win office.


anniej March 23, 2012 @ 9:16 a.m.

too bad, Visduh, 'too blunt' is exactly what the dr. ordered and what we in the south bay need.

currently we hear nothing coming out of the majority of our board members, 9 out of 10 times that they do open their mouths, unfortunately the only words spewed are self serving or self promoting.

your post leaves me to question, what happened to the folks that have much to give and would not/could not be bought. perhaps it was the every day struggles of life, that kept folks with logical ideas, those with a moral compass out of politics.

what i do believe is this, the tides are turning, people are beginning to understand that there is a real problem with the way things are going.

i was speaking to someone in the '''know''' last night - they stated the following (paraphrasing) "you know, what amigable said was true, the monies the gifts had become the NORM, there truly was/is a culture in the district that fed the pay to play - it has been that way for so long it had become the ways things are done". WOW


Visduh March 24, 2012 @ 8:35 p.m.

If I were to try to change anything in a school district, it would be in my local one, where my kids once went to school. It stumbles from one crisis to the next, hires a series of supes where each one is weaker than the one before, offers buyouts to the experienced teachers so that it can hire cheaper rookie teachers. Then it wails about the poor test scores. It ran for years with too few school rooms and went on year-round school. Now it has too MANY rooms, and has closed two schools due to a surplus of space, right after building six new schools. You cannot reconcile what it says with what it does. We have a "blunt conservative" member of the board who has bamboozled a big group of voters into thinking he speaks for them, yet when it came to hiring the current supe (a huge mistake) he was her biggest booster. What he's good at is voting "no" for almost everything, even when he has no counter-proposal or alternative. Anyone who wants a seat on that board has to be a little bit nuts or a pure masochist.


Visduh March 22, 2012 @ 9:17 p.m.

What I'm waiting for is to hear the other shoes drop. And the suspense is killing me. Will they drop hard, or will they just hit with a small bump (as in a plea bargain, a fine, and no jail time?) Gandara is the one who really needs to spend a couple years breaking rocks in the hot sun. Such a phony in all facets of his career (including his questionable doctorate degree) deserves it.


anniej March 23, 2012 @ 9:24 a.m.

yes,'the gandara' truly does need to spend some time' - will he? who knows. what i want regarding the rest currently under indictment is for them to leave office and be kept from ever ever holding another public office.

i, would however, really like to see the 'shoe drop' of bonny garcia, corruptor at law. while he is being sued by Ruiz, formerly of gcr i believe he needs to be held accountable for his role in all of of this.

i truly hope that amigable spills all that he knows about the 'true' workings of the sweetwater district. many suspect that there is/was much more to the story then what/ has been told so far.

cooking of the 'books', many are raising questions about the financials of the district. their cries 'of broke' causing speculation that something is amiss regarding the true balances of many of the funds.

while i am hearing that the prop o auditor has recommended a further audit of the bond account - i am listening to others calls for a forensic audit of the districts books in their entirety.


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