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Defendants make their pleas Robert Moreno | Fri, Apr 12 2013 04:10 PM

Defendants in the Sweetwater Union High School District, Southwestern College and San Ysidro School District  corruption case pleaded not guilty this morning in Dept. 5 of the Chula Vista courthouse.

The pleas came months after the San Diego County grand jury last December issued numerous indictments against school officials and contractors District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has accused of being involved in a pay-to-play culture that has corrupted the way business is done in South Bay schools.

Those who pleaded not guilty today are former Southwestern College administrator Nick Alioto; former Southwestern College Superintendant and President Raj Chopra; former Southwestern College governing board member Jorge Dominguez; former Southwestern College Board President Yolanda Salcido; director of business, operations and facilities planning John Wilson; Sweetwater Union High School District board member Jim Cartmill; Sweetwater  Union High School District Board member Bertha Lopez; Sweetwater  Union High School District Board member Pearl Quiñones; Sweetwater  Union High School District board member Arlie Ricasa; former Sweetwater Union High School Superintendent Jesus Gandara; former Sweetwater Union High School District board member Greg Sandoval;
San Ysidro School District Superintendant Manuel Paul, and contractor Jeff Flores.

The trial is expected to begin Feb. 18 at 1:30 p.m. at the South County Superior Courthouse.

Superior Court Judge Ana Espana denied defense attorneys’ request to keep the transcripts from the grand jury investigation sealed.

The defense argued that making the transcripts public would prejudice potential jurors.

“What we’re interested in here is a fair trial to the defendents,” said Marc Carlos, defense attorney  for Quinones  “The media has indicated  that the release of transcripts might prejudice a jury poll.”

But Espana said that while pretrial publicity can have an affect on the trial process, the prosecution and defense would most likely be able to find 12 suitable jurors.

Espana said that both sides would have an opportunity to seek redactions in the voluminous document. She set May 17 as the date to consider requests.

A readiness conference is scheduled for July 17.

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sosocal Says:

Mon, Apr 22 2013 08:33 AM

Good questions, anniej--

It must be that the word is not getting out, that people just can't believe that a superintendent, namely Ed Brand, would be this blatantly greedy and out for himself.

Or people are numbed into inaction because of the seeming impossibility of getting the board of trustees to act like the independent entity which it is supposed to be.

Yet those of us who do pay attention--and are mocked for it by those who like the status quo of corruption--will keep up the pressure. We will watch Ed Brand and the loyal voting block EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.

We will keep track of all the shortcuts, all the favors, all the contracts given to pals, all the attempts to create jobs for Ed's pals...because we know that is not how things are supposed to work.

I have been beyond appalled since this disgusting travesty of a school board first revealed how pathetically inept they are. They sealed the deal when they brought Brand back and then became a party to his complete corruption by giving him that contract last September. The voting block is in it, and they are in it "deep". There is no other explanation for their behavior. Although McCann has not been indicted--curiously--so why does he ALWAYS go along with Ed Brand. Political favors for the future? Whatever the excuse is, it is beyond sickening.

anniej Says:

Sun, Apr 21 2013 06:46 PM

The majority of the board is under indictment, facing felony indictments, the majority of the board has turned the district over to Ed Brand. They handed our children over to him on a silver platter - he the imposter, he the one who claims "it's all about the kids". Was it all about the kids when he resigned, over MORE MONEY????, then squirmed back in when they open the cash boxes and basically said, "take it, take it all".

People, wake up, what are you waiting for? Are you waiting for the authorities to do what you have control over? WHY! WHY WAIT?

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