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Two Former Redevelopment Officials Plead Guilty To Illegal Bonuses

Two former top officials of the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. were each facing up to one year in jail today after pleading guilty to taking thousands of dollars in illegal bonuses.

Carolyn Yvonne Smith, the former president of the SEDC, and Dante Dayacap, the agency's former financial officer, pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling public funds at a San Diego Superior Court hearing.

The defendants initially pleaded not guilty in May to state charges that included conspiracy and misappropriation of public funds, and were scheduled to appear in court today for a preliminary hearing.

According to court records, the defendants wrote themselves bonuses in excess of $300,000 between 2005 and 2008, and doled out hundreds of thousands more to others SEDC employees.

According to a declaration in support of a felony complaint, "Smith and Dayacap misrepresented SEDC's administrative costs to the City Council and inflated SEDC's administrative budget. Smith and Dayacap then used the excess budgeted funds to award themselves and other SEDC employees large bonuses, without the knowledge or approval of the SEDC Board of Directors or City Council.''

Governance of the redevelopment agency and its downtown counterpart, the Centre City Development Corp., have both since been reformed.

Smith and Dayacap were fired from the SEDC in 2008 after allegedly handing out $872,000 in bonuses to themselves and other staff members, which an auditor determined were fraudulent.

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