A former Southwestern College official was sentenced to three years probation Jan. 9 for his role in a pay-for-play scheme that included 15 other defendants across three South County school districts.
John Wilson, former senior director of business operations at Southwestern College, was also ordered to pay a $7,994 fine and fulfill 20 days of community service as part of a reduced misdemeanor charge.
Wilson pleaded guilty Dec. 7 to a felony charge of being an accessory to a crime, but on Tuesday San Diego Superior Court Judge Ana Espana reduced that charge to a misdemeanor for aiding and abating Henry Amigable of Seville Construction Services.
In his felony guilty plea, Wilson admitted to receiving gifts of value from Amigable to influence his decision and tried to help conceal Amigable’s conduct to avoid arrest, trial or punishment.
Wilson was charged with 14 felony counts in the indictment filed Dec. 21, 2012.
His attorney, Kevin McDermott, argued for the reduced charge saying that his client made a bad decision.
“I want to propose to the court here today that Mr. Wilson’s defense was an error in judgment and not necessarily an error in character,” he said. “Mr. Wilson should have the opportunity to be judged based upon what he did in this case and what he’s done for the last 35 years at that school. And he’s done a lot.”
The District Attorney’s Office had accused Wilson of feeding insider information to Amigable, recommended Seville Construction for a job only so he could work for the company soon after retiring from the college.
Addressing Espana, Wilson apologized for his actions.
“I (would) just like to say I’m partly sorry for some of my actions at the college regarding my position,” he said. “I know this has hurt the college, a place that I love.”
Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr asked the judge to uphold the felony charge because he said Wilson knew exactly what he was doing while enjoying lavish gifts.
“There is no question that the defendant understood what was taking place,” Schorr states in court records. “He made efforts to hide his trail of corruption by attempting to hide his close relationship with Seville Construction Services.
This evidence proves beyond any doubt that he acted with a corrupt intent because he was more interested in how he could personally obtain a financial gain rather than how he could best serve the interests of Southwestern College.”
Espana, a Southwestern College alumna, reduced the felony charge because she said despite Wilson illegally receiving gifts and not reporting them, Wilson did not seek to damage the college.