San Diego: 26 Felony Charges So Far Involving Contractor Gifts To School Officials

Calling it perhaps the worst case of public corruption uncovered on her watch, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis on Wednesday announced 26 felony charges against four current and former South Bay schools officials — and the contractor who picked up their tabs for elegant meals, rare wines, hotel stays, theater passes and sometimes handed them cash.

In October 2010, investigative reporters at the San Diego Union-Tribune began a series of articles that detailed numerous issues at the Sweetwater Union High School District. The school district is the largest secondary school district in the U.S. and the allegations have resulted in several dismissals for school officials and employees of contractors soliciting work for the district.

The story goes that Henry Amigable, a former construction executive at Gilbane, offered a variety of expensive gifts to officials and later won lucrative construction projects for his employer. Amigable resigned from Gilbane in 2009 and then went to work for another contractor, Seville Construction Services. Former school officials, Jesus Gandara, Greg Sandoval, Pearl Quinones and Arlie Ricasa are alleged to have received various gifts in exchange for awarding construction contracts.

In the wake of the news reports, the current members of the school board have suspended involvement with SGI, a company that was tasked with overseeing the implementation of district bond projects.

More details are expected to be revealed as the investigation continues.