Thu, Jan 30 2014 03:45 PM Posted By: Robert Moreno
Nicholas Alioto, former vice president of business affairs at Southwestern College, avoided prison time when he was sentenced to probation, community service and ordered to pay a fine for his dealings in what the District Attorney has called the “largest public corruption case in San Diego County history.”
San Diego Superior Court Judge Ana España on Jan.30 reduced Alioto’s felony charge down to a misdemeanor for aiding and abating Henry Amigable of Seville Construction Services.
As part of the misdemeanor charge, España sentenced Alioto to three years of summary probation and ordered him to 160 hours of community service, which he has to fulfill within 180 days.
Alioto also has to pay a $7,994 fine within in the next 30 days.
Handing out the sentence España warned Alioto of the consequences should he not adhere to his probation.
“There are definitely custodial consequences and I believe the maximum time of custody for this offense is a year,” she said. “Should there be any violation of probation that is what you’re looking at. This is not something less than that.”
“You have 365 days of custody that is staring at you, you need to comply with the terms of conditions of probation or you will go into custody, absolutely, it happens everyday.”
When España asked Alioto if he had anything to say he first shook his head as if to say no, but when Espnaña suggested for Alioto to apologize, he said:
“I want to say that I accept responsibility for the components that I was involved in in this and that I’m truly sorry for anything that my actions resulted in,” he said. “I believe very strongly to this day that the actions that I took were intended to get the best deals for the college.”
“….Nevertheless I did accept these gifts and that comes with a consequence and a reduction in the community’s faith in the district and for that I’m deeply sorry,”
Alioto allegedly failed to report gifts from Amigable that ranged from vacation trips to lavish meals.
Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr opposed the reduction of the misdemeanor charge.
Because Alioto is a Wisconsin resident he is not able to complete his community service in the area.
Instead, Alioto said through his attorney, he is willing to do community service work with non-profit organizations.
Before España sentenced Alioto, she heard from four community members that were introduced by the deputy district attorney.
One of those individuals was Nick Marinovich, a member of the Sweetwater Union High School District’s bond oversight committee.
Marinovich had asked España to uphold the felony charge.
“I think Mr. Alioto, given his conduct pursuant to the specific testimony in the grand jury along with his other conduct, he deserves more than a slap on the wrist,” he said.
“I think he needs to lose his freedom for a while. I think he needs to taste the bologna sandwich maybe if possible at George Bailey (jail) to see what life losing your freedom really means.”
Alioto is the second defendant in the corruption case to get a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor and getting sentenced to probation, a fine and community service.
Former Southwestern College Administrator John Wilson was also facing a felony charge when she reduced it to a misdemeanor at a Jan. 6 hearing.
Wilson also received probation, a fine and community service.
Alioto originally had his sentencing date scheduled with Wilson but bad weather kept Alioto from flying out from his Wisconsin home, so his sentencing date had to be postponed.
At the end of the court proceeding, Marinovich expressed his displeasure with the ruling, calling it “a slap on the wrist.”
“I’m very disappointed in the level of the sentence,” he said. “He betrayed the public trust.”
Alioto quickly rushed out of the courtroom to avoid the media and the public.
Marinovich yelled at Alioto “Embarrassment!” as Alioto rushed out.
© 2009 The Star-News