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.
Two people were killed and another person seriously injured Monday night in a multi-vehicle crash on state Route 76 in Vista.
Two people were killed Monday when a roughly 75-foot- tall tree fell onto a two-story house in the Point Loma Heights area.
Tragedy struck Monday in Point Loma Heights where a couple reportedly visiting from North Dakota died when a 75-foot tall Torrey Pine fell on the house. A fellow business owner from Grand Forks, North Dakota, identified the victims as Troy and Jessica Nelson – owners of Trojan Promotions.
Starbucks is expanding its delivery service and aims to offer it at nearly one-fourth of its U.S. company-operated coffee shops.
As the partial government shutdown continues, thousands of federal workers stand to miss a second paycheck this week.
Many Americans in places where sports betting is legal for the first time are beginning to make wagers on the Super Bowl, including some bets on the performances of individual athletes.
The highest king tides of the year peaked early Monday morning. All along San Diego’s coasts this weekend, News 8 captured footage of big waves and some flooding.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County has organized a fun and informative event to take place this Saturday. Beer + BBQ kicks off at noon at Thorn Brewing Co.’s Barrio Logan location (1745 National Ave).
San Diegans are celebrating a Jewish holiday on Monday. Tu B’Shevat marks the beginning of a new year for trees.