The Star-News

Gandara jailed, fined, put on probation

Sat, Jun 28 2014 07:00 PM Posted By: Robert Moreno

The last school official in what the district attorney’s office has called the “largest public corruption scandal in San Diego County history” will spend the next two months in jail.

Jesus Gandara, the former Sweetwater Union High School District  Superintendet involved in a pay-for-play case prosecuted bu the DA,was sentenced to 220 custodial days—60 days are to be served in jail before he becomes eligible to serve the remaining 160 device with a home confinement device monitored by the San Diego Sherrif's Department.

Gandara ,57,was handcuffed and booked immediately into the San Diego Central Jail Friday.

His sentencing also included three years probation with a $7,945 fine and 120 hours of community service that can be completed in Texas where he resides.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Ana Espana said in her sentencing Gandara had abused his power as the top school official by taking meals, sports tickets and other gifts from contractors in exchange for his votes.

“I think he was a significant leader in the corruption that occured at Sweetwater,” the judge said in her sentencing. “This defendant clearly used his power for his own personal benefit.”

Defense Attorney Paul Pfingst said he told his client that he can now move forward with his life.

“I told him this is in one sense the end that allows him a new beginning,” Pfingst said.

"A chapter of his life has been closed and another chapter is now going to begin. I’m sure he is going to be successful in his community in whatever his next chapter is.”

Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr said Jesus Gandara was one of the main corrupters in the scandal.

“Dr. Gandara was definitely one of the more important players as well as Dr. Sandoval that was sentenced (June 20) and went into custody,”

Community member and whistleblower Kathleen  Cheers said Gandara let down the thousands of kids in the district by his corruption.

"He is supposed to be a mentor that the Latino community looks up to," she said. "And what did he do but bring disgrace?"

Gandara on April 4 entered a guilty plea to a felony charge of conspiracy and a misdemeanor charge of not reporting gifts.

When he was first indicted by the DA’s office in 2012 he faced a slew of charges ranging from extortion to bribery.

Entering court Friday he faced up to three years in prison.

Gandara becomes the second defendant to go to jail after ex board member Greg Sandoval was sentenced last week to 45 days in jail.

Pearl Quinones, who pleaded guilty to a felony received home confinement.



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