SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Bribery charges were added Friday 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 Friday 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.
Law enforcement agencies across San Diego County are planning to crack down on drunken driving over the three-day Memorial Day weekend.
A two vehicle crash left one person critically injured Friday in Emerald Hills, according to authorities.
Some of the smartest high school students in San Diego County will be in Atlanta this weekend competing in the National Quiz Bowl Championship.
Californians Aware, a statewide group that advocates for government transparency, Friday expressed concern over a soon-to-take- effect San Diego Unified School District policy to delete most emails after one year.
Millions of Southern Californians will be taking to the roads and airways Friday as the Memorial Day travel crunch goes into high gear, and the large crowds will likely test the patience of motorists and airline passengers.
Several good Samaritans, including a grandmother, disregarded their own safety today when they helped subdue and disarm a knife- waving man who attacked the driver of a bus full of schoolchildren in a rural neighborhood in southeastern San Diego County.
An animal known as the San Quintin Kangaroo rat and native to Baja California is back from the brink of extinction.
As Memorial Day weekend approaches, San Diego Blood Bank CEO David Wellis today encouraged those who haven't recently donated blood to consider scheduling an appointment.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is famous for its expansive habitats featuring African and Asian species. The all-new Walkabout Australia gives park guests a view into a new region of the world with interesting and unique species.