The Star-News

Corruption trial postponed

Fri, Jan 24 2014 04:00 PM Posted By: Robert Moreno

A trial date in the corruption case that has plagued three South Bay school districts has been delayed until April 28, more than two months after the case was supposed to begin.

Paul Pfingst, attorney for former Sweetwater Union High School District Superintendant Jesus Gandara, brought a motion of continuance because he had other trials that would overlap with the original Feb. 18 trial date.

“I had assumed this inclination that this case was probably not going to trial,” he said. “There was a gap in time during which I operated under an assumption and met with other judges about other cases.”

Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr said he was ready to move forward with the trial.

“We’ve always been firm that we will take this trial and be ready to go on February 18,” Schorr said.  “If I have to get this case to trial, it’s not going to settle, let’s try (moving the date) it. People have a right to have this case heard.”

Sweetwater board member Pearl Quiñones’ attorney, Marc Carlos,  also said a Feb. 18 trial date would have been a scheduling conflict with him. But if the trial stayed in February, he said he would be willing to ask other judges to put his other cases on the fast track.

Ricardo Gonzalez, attorney for  ex Sweetwater District board member Greg Sandoval also had a scheduling issue for the February 18 date.

Dean Schiffman, attorney for Sweetwater board member Bertha Lopez, took no position on rescheduling a trial date.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Ana España said a trial needs to happen “sooner than later.”

She also said when the initial trial date was given she didn’t schedule any cases that would interfere with the trial.

After a brief recess, Pfingst suggested the new trial date for April 28, but España wanted a date in the beginning of April. 

When attorneys’ schedules couldn’t make an early April date work, she agreed to the new trial date.

España said she anticipates the trial to last four to six months.

Pfingst said he didn’t know why the trial would last so long.

“Four months. I’m not sure why it’s four months,” Pfingst said.

Epaña said she hopes that the case will find a resolution. 

“My hope is that there is continued conversations between counsel to resolve this case.” “It would be best for everybody to reach a resolution.”

A motion hearing is set for February 7, with jury selection scheduled for April 20.

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