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Sweetwater District Board Member Pearl Quinones Pleads Guilty In Corruption Case

Above: Sweetwater Union High School District board member Pearl Quinones speaks at school board meeting in this undated photo.

A Sweetwater Union High School District board member accused in a corruption case pleaded guilty Tuesday and will leave office.

Pearl Quinones was one of 15 people indicted and accused of accepting gifts in exchange for votes on construction contracts. She initially pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr said Quinones pleaded guilty to one felony count -- conspiracy to commit a crime, specifically the acceptance by any member of the governing board of any valuable thing, with corrupt intent.

Additionally, she pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of accepting gifts with a total value of more than $250, according to Schorr.

As part of her guilty plea, Quinones will be removed from office. She also could be fined up to $10,000.

Her punishment may include jail time, home confinement and probation, but that will be determined by a judge at a later date.

Quinones, ex-Sweetwater Union High School District Superintendent Jesus Gandara, former trustee Greg Sandoval and board member Arlie Ricasa were charged in 2012 in connection with the alleged "pay for play" scheme.

Also charged in indictments were board members James Cartmill and Bertha Lopez, as well as San Ysidro School District Superintendent Manuel Paul and former Southwestern College Superintendent and President Raj Chopra. Cartmill, Lopez, Paul and Chopra were also charged with bribery, perjury and other counts.

For years, the public officials regularly accepted what amounted to bribes -- trips, fancy dinners -- in exchange for their votes on multimillion-dollar construction projects, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis alleged.

In March 2012, construction company executive Henry Amigable admitted to a misdemeanor charge that he provided gifts, meals and tickets for entertainment events to district officials to influence the school board's decisions on construction contracts. He was sentenced to three years probation.

"We're going to go all the way through this and we're going to win. We're going to fight and we're going to win this case because I'm innocent," Quinones said after an April 2013 hearing.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | March 18, 2014 at 4:24 p.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

Put her in jail !!!!! She used the public trust for illegal means. 5 years sounds good to me. CLINK Pleading guilty should not make the difference.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | March 19, 2014 at 8:23 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

how many higher ups knew what was going on and did nothing?

should be a whole group headed for jail.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | March 19, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

Right Mmikey. The public sector is out of control. That's why I think they should all get 5 years when caught. That may slow down these folks feeding from the trough.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | March 19, 2014 at 9:19 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

@MIKEY, Superintendent Gandaya knew about it. He will see no prison time.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | March 19, 2014 at 9:43 a.m. ― 2 years, 11 months ago

I read in the UT that unlike with Ricasa, Q was not given the option of pleading guilty to lesser charges. That said, the consensus is that she will get a slap on the wrist.

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Avatar for user 'zorst'

zorst | April 28, 2014 at 6:47 p.m. ― 2 years, 10 months ago

I had a small computer business in Chula Vista, and bid on selling multiple computer systems to Southwestern College. I worked through one of the professors in submitting my bid. I had the lowest bid by over $100 dollars. I never got the contract I never expected to get it. They seem to have had some type of arrangement with the other computer supplier at the time. Corruption is all around. It's too bad as a small businessman those multiple sales can make a big difference if you can make it in business or not.

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