Ex-San Ysidro district superintendent Manuel Paul admits squeezing contractor for donations

SAN DIEGO - A former San Ysidro School District superintendent pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to extracting political contributions from a prospective contractor by threatening to withhold work on future building contracts.

Manuel Paul, 63, faces up to a year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine when he is sentenced Nov. 18.

According to his plea agreement, Paul admitted he asked a contractor to contribute $3,600 to three political candidates for the 2010 School Board election.

Paul admitted he made clear that including the victim on the list of contractors for future building projects would be contingent on him donating $3,600 for political campaigns.

Two months before the 2010 election, Paul accepted $2,500 in cash from the contractor in the parking lot of a Chula Vista restaurant, according to the plea agreement.

Paul said he used part of the money to buy campaign signs for the candidates from a print shop in Tijuana.

The three candidates in question won the three open seats.

Almost two years later, in July 2012, Paul provided the three candidates a receipt for the purchase of $1,401 in campaign signs for the 2010 election, according to charging documents.

Simultaneous with his guilty plea, Paul also entered into a stipulation with the California Fair Political Practices Commission in which he admitted to receiving a gift exceeding the annual gift limit by accepting the $2,500 from the contractor.

As part of his settlement with the FPPC, Paul agreed to pay a $5,000 fine.

Paul worked in the San Ysidro School District for 38 years as a teacher, principal and superintendent, a post he held from 2007 until his resignation in 2013.

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