Sweetwater Union High School board member Arlie Ricasa pleaded guilty Wednesday to one misdemeanor count of receiving gifts in excess of what is allowed by state law. She is expected to resign her place on the school board by Dec. 19.
In 2012 Ricasa had pleaded not guilty to a variety of misdemeanor and felony charges. Her Wednesday plea deal eliminates the remaining charges.
“I received, reviewed, understood and biannually voted on Sweetwater’s conflict of interest code delineating the Form 700 reporting requirements sent to the Sweetwater Board by the Superintendent,” Ricasa stated in court documents.
“In 2009, I was an elected School Board Member for the Sweetwater Union High School District. I accepted gifts from Rene Flores (SGI) in 2009 with a value of $2099 and I did not report them. The maximum amount one may lawfully receive from one source per year is four hundred and twenty dollars ($420); Rene Flores provided these gifts with the intent to influence my vote on business awarded to Seville Group Inc.”
Ricasa’s attorney Allen Bloom said she “felt it was in the best interest of the school district to resign.”
Bloom also said Ricasa wanted to thank all of her supporters and will not comment further until the case is completed.
Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr did not comment on the plea because several other cases in the corruption scandal are still pending
Sweetwater District Spokesman Manny Rubio said Ricasa’s resignation would definitely be felt on the school board.
“She has served the district for a long time,” Rubio said. “It’s going to be a tough loss for us.”
Ricasa, 49, has been a board member since 1998.
The district released a formal statement Wednesday outlying its plans to fulfill Ricasa’s vacated seat:
“The Sweetwater School District will be working with our own legal counsel and the San Diego County Office of Education on what the next steps will be regarding governance of the district. Board policy states that a provisional appointment will be made to fill the vacant seat. A timeline will be shared with the public once it is available.”
Judge Ana España indicated on plea form that Ricasa will not serve any jail time.
Ricasa has an April 9, 2014 sentencing date.
Six defendants remain in the South Bay school district corruption probe that originally indicted 15 people across three districts.
The remaining six are Sweetwater board members Jim Cartmill, Bertha Lopez and Pearl Quiñones; former district superintendent Jesus Gandara; and ex Sweetwater board member Greg Sandoval.
A February trial date is set for the five defendants.
The following defendants have already pleaded guilty: former Southwestern College Superintendent Raj Chopra; ex
Southwestern College Governing Board member Jorge Dominguez; former Southwestern director of facilities and planning John Wilson; one-time Southwestern Governing Board President Yolanda Salcido; former Southwestern vice president of business and financial affairs Nicholas Alioto; ex San Ysidro Superintendent Manuel Paul; board member to the San Ysidro School District Yolanda Hernandez; former bond underwriter for Southwestern and Sweetwater Gary Cabello; South Bay contractor Henry Amigable.