A San Diego Superior Court judge sentenced former Sweetwater Union High School District board President Jim Cartmill to probation, community service hours and ordered him to pay a fine for a misdemeanor charge of accepting gifts above state limit.
Judge Ana Espana said she found Cartmill “to be among the least culpable offenders” in a case that the San Diego district attorney has referred to as one of largest public corruption cases in San Diego County history.
For his role in the scandal, Espana sentenced Cartmill to three years probation, 40 hours of community service that must be completed within 120 days and issued him a $4,589 fine.
Espana also said government code 91002, which would have prevented Cartmill from becoming “a candidate for an elective office” does not apply to him, therefore allowing him to run for re-election.
“I will let the voters of the South Bay community decide whether or not they want Mr. Cartmill to continue to represent them and elect him in office,” Espana said.
Cartmill’s term is up in November; however, he was suspended from the school board after he pleaded guilty in April.
Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr told the judge that Cartmill was in fact one of the lesser-profile defendants in the case.
“We do agree with your assessment, as far as Sweetwater defendants go, there is the least amount of evidence for Mr. Cartmill,” Schorr said.
Cartmill entered a guilty plea on April 24 to a misdemeanor charge of receiving gifts above the state limit.
It had initially looked as if he, along with suspended board member Bertha Lopez, would be allowed to stay on the Sweetwater governing board and finish out their terms when Espana cited a finding that would have allowed them to do so.
However, the district then sought clarification from Espana asking how she could allow both board members to remain on the school board when California government code 1770.2 said otherwise.
Code 1770.2 required Lopez and Cartmill to either step down or be suspended once they entered an admission of guilt.
Espana reversed her decision in May and said she did not have the authority to determine if Cartmill and Lopez could remain on the board.
Their immediate suspensions left vacancies on the board as it fell below a quorum.
The district immediately suspended the board members and filed a restraining order, that Superior Court Judge Judith
Hayes granted, allowing the president of the San Diego County Office of Education to appoint four temporary trustees to serve on the board.
Cartmill’s sentencing comes exactly one week after superintendent Dr. Ed Brand announced his retirement from the district, and also when the Sweetwater district held its first meeting as a new board in which trustee John McCann was appointed president.
On advice of his attorney, Cartmill would not comment for this story.
Lopez, the remaining Sweetwater defendant, had her sentencing date moved to June 24.