A corruption case that involved contractors and school officials across three South Bay school districts had its first defendant receive jail time.
Gregorio Sandoval, a former Sweetwater Union High School District board member and Southwestern College administrator, was sentenced June 20 to 180 days of custodial time, 45 which he has to serve in jail and serve the remaining 135 in home confinement.
Sandoval, 60, was handcuffed and taken to jail from the courtroom and booked.
He was also fined $7,995 and must complete 120 hours of community service.
In addition, he was sentenced to three years probation for an April 4 guilty plea to a felony conspiracy charge and a misdemeanor charge of not reporting gifts.
Probation starts at the time of sentencing, not at the time he is released from jail.
Defense Attorney Jeremy Warren said Sandoval is finally able to put this case to rest.
“Mr. Sandoval was eager for this day to come,” Warren said. “He took responsibility for making some mistakes.”
Before San Diego Superior Court Judge Ana Espana handed down her sentence, Warren had asked her to reduce Sandoval’s felony to a misdemeanor to avoid jail time.
Warren argued that Sandoval had done a lot of good for students at both Southwestern and Sweetwater and that should be taken into account.
Warren also said the local jails have limited space and that space should be used for a violent offender, not Sandoval.
Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr asked the judge to uphold the felony because Sandoval needed to be the example that elected officials can’t get away with corruption.
“We believe there needs to be more than just an embarrassment or a lost job which, again, is significant,” Schorr said.
“There needs to be a real actual fear of a custodial sentencing for current and future public officials so they know that if they do these types of actions, it’s not going to be simply that they get to go home or say they’re sorry.”
Espana eventually denied Warren’s request saying Sandoval was “one of the most egregious defendants in this case.”
“He was a significant leader in the corruption that occurred at Sweetwater,” the judge said. Sandoval did not address the court.
Sandoval resigned from his $151,811 a year job as vice president of student services at Moreno Valley College on April 22, with the effective date being June 20, said Jim Parsons, a spokesman for the Riverside Community College District.