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Bribery Charges Added In Sweetwater Corruption Case

Bribery charges were added today against four current and former Sweetwater Union High School District officials allegedly involved in a "pay-for-play'' culture with businesses awarded contracts for voter- approved bond projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Former Sweetwater Superintendent Jesus Gandara, along with trustees Arlie Ricasa and Pearl Quinones and 16-year former board member Greg Sandoval were charged with accepting a bribe. They were originally charged in January with perjury, filing a false document and other counts.

In March, construction company executive Henry Amigable admitted a misdemeanor charge that he provided gifts, meals and tickets for entertainment events to district officials to influence the school board's decisions in granting construction contracts.

He is scheduled to be sentenced June 22.

The defendants' attorneys told Judge Michael Smyth today that District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis' use of the case in political ads -- she is running for mayor of San Diego -- could influence a potential jury pool.

Smyth said he was uncomfortable issuing a gag order, as the defense had requested, and set a January preliminary hearing date.

When the charges were first announced, Dumanis alleged that between 2008 and 2011, the defendants frequented San Diego-area restaurants, spending hundreds of dollars on food and drinks, sometimes more than $1,000 per outing. The defendants were also given Los Angeles Lakers playoff tickets, Rose Bowl tickets and a trip to Napa Valley, she said.

For years, the public officials regularly accepted what amounted to bribes in exchange for their votes on multimillion-dollar construction projects, Dumanis alleged.

If convicted, Gandara, Quinones, Sandoval and Ricasa each face between four and seven years in state prison.

Comments

Avatar for user 'anniej'

anniej | May 11, 2012 at 1:23 p.m. ― 1 year, 11 months ago

if i were the board members involved in the indictments or a few of the others NOT indicted i would be a little worried. amigable, definitely a player in all of this, but we should not forget the recent guilty plea of Mr. Flores, now he is the person i would be worrying about. how many of you have gone to the san diego registrar of voters website and reviewed for yourselves the incredibly large amounts of monies that were donated into the current boards campaign funds? after doing so i would recommend that you then compare those donations to the votes that have been taken since the elections, listen to the board docs audio and hear for yourself which sole board member has spoken out and voted in favor of the students in the sweetwater district, which board member historically stands alone as ONLY NO VOTE. board member lopez

the RECALL movement of the south bay will hopefully bring an end to the pay to play culture IN OUR DISTRICT. what happens in the court room will be left up to the judge and jury.

there is talk about other districts participating in their own version of PAY TO PLAY, many are reaching out asking for help with their situations. it is time my fellow neighbors to take our districts back we must bring integrity back into all of our districts.

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Avatar for user 'Dothscribble'

Dothscribble | May 11, 2012 at 1:27 p.m. ― 1 year, 11 months ago

Illegal residency wouldn't be surprising.
Different country, Same drill. It's encouraged.
Now it's free room & board for 'heroes' who may have been gazed upon 'incorrectly' at some point by someone possibly born here.
I hope they're treated as misunderstood gods or we may disappear.

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