Construction executive sentenced for providing gifts to school board members

Henry Amigable placed on 3 years probation

SAN DIEGO - A construction company executive who provided gifts, meals and entertainment event tickets to members of the Sweetwater Union High School District to influence the school board's decisions in granting construction contracts was sentenced Friday to three years probation and ordered to do 100 hours of volunteer work.

Henry Amigable, 48, pleaded guilty a year ago to a misdemeanor charge of giving something of value to a member of a school governing board.

He faced a maximum of six months in jail.

Defense attorney Dan Greene told Judge Michael Smyth that Amigable accepted responsibility at an early stage of the case and "has done everything in his power to help make amends."

Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr agreed, telling the judge that Amigable has cooperated with his office in the investigation.

Smyth called the case "serious," saying Amigable acted as an employee trying to bring business to his company and not as an owner.

The judge said Amigable has shown humility and remorse for his actions, noting that the crime has caused the defendant to be out of work.

Amigable was charged last year along with former SUHSD Superintendent Jesus Gandara, trustees Arlie Ricasa and Pearl Quinones and former board member Greg Sandoval. They, along with 11 other defendants from the San Ysidro School District and Southwestern Community College District, were subsequently indicted by a county grand jury.

Arraignments are scheduled April 12 at the South Bay Courthouse.

Also charged in the indictments handed down in December are current Sweetwater board members James Cartmill and Bertha Lopez, as well as San Ysidro School District Superintendent Manuel Paul and former Southwestern College Superintendent and President Raj Chopra.

For years, the public officials regularly accepted what amounted to bribes -- trips, fancy dinners -- in exchange for their votes on multimillion-dollar construction projects, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis alleged.

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