Mon, Mar 26 2012 05:33 PM Posted By: Allison K. Sampite
Two more defendants were arraigned today downtown following charges filed by San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in her alleged South Bay corruption case.
Former Southwestern College administrator Nicholas Alioto and architect Paul Bunton were charged with a total of four felony and misdemeanor counts.
Alioto, 46, is charged with perjury, filing a false statement and wrongful influence of a public official, while Bunton was charged with aiding the commission of a misdemeanor.
Bunton’s attorney Dana Grimes entered a guilty plea on his behalf to entertaining Southwestern officials.
The pair are the sixth and seventh individuals from the Sweetwater Union High School District and Southwestern College charged by Dumanis' office in her ongoing public integrity case since January.
Alioto is the former vice president of business affairs at Southwestern College. He resigned in February 2011 after a report was publicized about a college foundation gala where contractors bid on a gift to spend a getaway weekend with Alioto in Napa Valley.
Bunton, 53, is the founder of BCA Architects, whose firm won a $5.3 million contract from the college in April 2010.
Bunton was in charge of designing the gateway administration building at the corner of East H Street and Otay Lakes Road. The project fell under the college’s voter-approved bond measure, Proposition R and is currently at a standstill after the college’s governing board voted to terminate BCA's contract on Jan. 25.
Two current and former Sweetwater officials pleaded not guilty in January to similar charges against Alioto.
According to the investigation by the DA’s Office, several defendants were involved in “pay-for-play” with multi-million dollar contracts, where contractors paid thousands of dollars in entertainment for officials.
In January, Dumanis said public officials traded their votes for bribes when they neglected to report gifts on their Statements of Economic Interest, required by law.
Last week, construction executive Henry Amigable who worked for Southwestern and Sweetwater pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of offering something of value to a school board member. Previous bribery charges against him were dismissed.
Bunton faces a maximum of six months in jail and $1,000 in fines. He will be sentenced downtown in department 50 on June 19 at 8:30 a.m.
Judge Michael T. Smyth set the next court date for Alioto for May 15. Alioto’s attorney Sanjay Bhandari declined to comment.
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