Authorities investigate possible document burning at San Ysidro School District office

SAN DIEGO - San Diego police and the FBI are investigating whether legal documents were burned at San Ysidro School District headquarters Wednesday.

Police said they received a call at about 12:30 p.m. notifying them of someone burning documents at the district office. Officers arrived just before 1 p.m. to investigate, and FBI officials said agents were also sent to the scene.

Sources told 10News one more district employees were involved in the destruction of legal documents and the burning may have started as early as Sunday.

10News cameras captured officers and agents going through trash and removing items from a trash bin. They took away a black plastic bag with what appeared to be shredded documents of some kind.

Authorities left the scene at about 5:30 p.m. Further details on the investigation have not yet been released.

Sources told 10News that former district superintendent Manuel Paul, who is awaiting trial on bribery charges, may have been involved in the document burning. 10News went to Paul's house Wednesday night to ask him directly if he had anything to do with the burning of legal documents at the district's maintenance yard this week.

10News reporter Preston Phillips asked, "So you weren't there burning any documents?"

"No ... I was there, but I didn't burn any documents," responded Paul.

A member of the San Ysidro Teachers' Association executive board who did not want to talk on camera directed 10News to an upside down 55-gallon drum with holes drilled into to it, saying it was used to burn legal documents overnight, and that Paul and another official were seen doing it.

He says he saw charred legal documents Wednesday with the school district attorney's name on them.

Paul's attorney, Jim Fitzpatrick, released the following statement to 10News late Wednesday night:
 

"While my knowledge of this alleged incident is limited, I can nonetheless categorically state that Mr. Paul did not destroy evidence or try to cover up anything. Mr. Paul vacated his office last January, leaving behind personal property in his unlocked desk and office. Since then, the office and desk have been used regularly by the District. Mr. Paul had been asked for some time to remove his belongings, and if in fact Mr. Paul destroyed anything, it was his own property."

A source tells 10News the district's maintenance yard supervisor Carmen Valenzuela was interviewed by the FBI.

Neither the FBI nor police would comment on what was found.

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