Thursday, December 12, 2013

South Bay school officials have entered a number of guilty pleas; trial Feb. 18, 2014 if any defendants remain

Former South Bay schools officials have day in court
Sweetwater and Southwestern administrators make pleas in corruption cases
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
Dec. 7, 2013

On December 6, readiness conferences began in the South Bay courthouse at 1:30 p.m. and lasted until 4:00. All of the Sweetwater Union High School District and Southwestern College defendants appeared in court with the exception Jeff Flores, former program manager for Southwestern’s Proposition R.

Judge Ana EspaƱa issued a $25,000 bench warrant for Flores.

In those brief hours on Friday — as attorneys scurried between the judge’s chambers and the clients in the courthouse hallways — deals were hammered out for Southwestern College’s remaining defendants.

Former Southwestern superintendent Raj Chopra pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in October.

Former Southwestern trustee Yolanda Salcido pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor on count 48, perjury in relation to her 700 form. Sentencing was set for April 22, 2014, and Salcido faces a fine of up to $5000.

Former Southwestern vice president Nicholas Alioto pleaded guilty to one felony count, penal code 32. Alioto admitted to aiding former Proposition R program manager Henry Amigable to commit a felony by accepting a thing of value and failing to report it on his 700 form. Alioto will be sentenced on January 7.

The former facilities manager at Southwestern, John Wilson, also pleaded guilty to one felony, penal code 32, and will also be sentenced on January 7.

Both Alioto and Wilson face the possibility of a $10,000 fine and three years in a state prison. However, in pleading guilty, the court will consider alternatives to custody.

Earlier in the day on December 6, former Southwestern College trustee Jorge Dominguez pleaded guilty to a felony. In a related case, former superintendent Manuel Paul pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

Next Friday, again at 1:30, all of the Sweetwater defendants will return to the South Bay courthouse for a continuation of their readiness hearings.

Courtroom locker talk suggests that the Sweetwater hearings will look much the same as the Southwestern hearings: a sprinkling of felonies, a handful of misdemeanors, and a stage swept clean.

Deputy district attorney Leon Schorr said in a December 7 email: “As to remaining defendants we have a further date for readiness on the 13th and a trial date confirmed for the 18th of February for any and all that we are unable to resolve.”

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