The sentencing hearing of corrupt ex-San Ysidro, California superintendent Manuel Paul has been pushed back from December 25th to January 13th. The motion was approved by federal court judge William V. Gallo on Paul’s defense attorney’s request for more time to prepare a response to a probation officer’s report recommending house arrest for the individual charged.
The former superintendent, aged 63, has been in the spotlight since January 15th and pleaded guilty to corruption charges on August 20th. Paul admitted to coercing money from a contractor
who was aiming to do business with the school district. The “pay to play” scandal that has affected three South County school districts accounted for a misdemeanor charge of “deprivation of benefits for political contributions”. Paul faces a fine of $100,000 regardless of his sentencing.
Defense attorney Dan Rodriguez stated that the response could not be filed due to issues in the report that needed to be disclosed from the public.
Judge Gallo has cited the urgency to grant Paul his rights to legal procedure, but has expressed his dissatisfaction at the delay in providing the presentencing report, writes Wendy Fry of NBC San Diego.
Paul’s problems began with a federal probe investigated a suspicious incident in 2010 where he accepted $2,500 in parking lot cash from a contractor seeking work with the district. Soon after, he resigned from his post with a $200,000 severance package and the promise of returning the funds in light of any indictment for his crimes.
He has also been accused of continuing to run the district through email after resigning and being seen burning public documents at district headquarters. However, both incidents were disregarded by Rodriguez as being irrelevant to the case.
“I think the right thing happened in court, the court decided that they were going to consider some of the information that’s been provided by the media to the probation department. We had hoped that the court would make the decision based on the facts of the case and not on media reports.”
Paul claimed that he used the black money obtained from contractor Loreto Romero in a Chula Vista steakhouse parking lot to purchase campaign signs from a printing shop in Tijuana for candidates in the 2010 School Board election. He issued a receipt of purchase of $1,401 during his trial. He has also been charged a fine of $5,000 from the California Fair Political Practices Commission for taking a monetary gift exceeding the annual limit, writes Christine Huard of UT San Diego.
Community activists blame Paul’s crimes for the district’s insolvency, claiming that he misused construction funds and over priced construction projects in return of lucrative gifts and similar courtesies.
The San Ysidro School District is also suing Paul for failure to return the severance funds.
Carol Wallace, the president of the San Ysidro teacher’s union, feels that Paul’s plea agreement should not be accepted:
“What it does, if they let him off, is it tells kids that ‘I can cheat,’ and ‘I can extort,’ and ‘I can just be given a slap on the wrist.’”